It has been one month today since the 2014-2015 federal budget was announced on 13th May 2014. At the time, Universities Australia was looking forward to “working closely with the Government to achieve our shared objective of creating a world’s best higher education system.”
However, by early June, Universities Australia Chief Executive Ms Belinda Robinson was featured on the ABC’s Lateline, concerned that the proposed deregulation of university fees would deter students from participating in university study. In particular, she pointed out that that it would be possible for some nursing graduates to have double the student debt that they do now if the changes to university fee structures went ahead.
By the 4th June, Universities Australia had issued a media release stating that they have “called for a rethink on the design of the proposed changes to the student loan program and the 20 per cent cut in the Government contribution to student fees.”
It seems that changing funding arrangements could be a double-edged sword for universities. On one hand, the ability to set their own fee structure seems quite appealing, but the potential loss of student numbers due to higher education costs could be their undoing.