Uni fee rise hits NXT wall
NXT is standing in the way of the government’s planned uni fee increase.
The Federal Government needs the support of the Nick Xenophon Team (NXT) to pass its plan for students to pay more for their education from next year.
But the NXT is calling for a comprehensive review of higher education before it supports the plan.
Their stance makes it very unlikely that the Government will get its legislation through Parliament before the end of the year.
The NXT wants an independent panel to review ways to help students move from secondary school into higher education and how to improve the university experience for students, among other matters.
NXT higher education spokesperson Rebekha Sharkie said the party could not support the Government’s plans without a review.
“Currently, we have students who are leaving university with high debts and little opportunity of securing stable employment in their area of study,” Ms Sharkie said.
“We have too many highly qualified young people, with PhD degrees, stacking supermarket shelves or making lattes. We need to do better than this.”
The party has already announced its objection to plans to make students pay back HECS debt when they earn over $42,000 a year, down from the current threshold of about $55,000.
It is also refusing to back the plan to make some university funding contingent on performance.
Education Minister Simon Birmingham said it is an irresponsible move.
“Xenophon's unacceptable approach would further grow the taxpayer-funded student debt burden and deliver even faster revenue increases for universities,” he said.
“We are appalled that the troika of Labor, Greens and Xenophon parties are unwilling to make even modest reductions in the rate of spending growth, which under our reforms would still have increased university funding by 23 per cent over the next four years.”
Senator Birmingham said the Government would consider the Senate’s options.
Universities Australia chief executive Belinda Robinson welcomed the NXT’s stance.
“What we've seen from the Nick Xenophon Team today represents a victory for common sense and a decision that really does reflect Australia's best interest,” she said.
“Pulling public investment out of Australia's university system is not the way to build a stronger, more internationally competitive tertiary education system.”
Universities fiercely oppose the Government's plans for the sector.
The Group of Eight universities congratulated NXT and welcomed the prospect of a comprehensive review.