As an PhD student, I have been privileged to so far been supported by public money and accessible government funds to get the basic education I need to now pursue a career in research into a very important area of our society. My family is from a modest working background. My parents didn’t get a chance to finish high school or even go to university (unlike our politicians). My family supported me as much as they could, but without a low interest HECS loan on affordable fees, youth allowance and health care concessions, I think it would have been a different story. They work hard to make ends meet, and lived through difficult stages of unemployment. With no support, I would have struggled with 2 part time jobs I was doing to pay rent, while struggling to complete my studies and caring for my family. If it is “the end of the age of entitlements”, what type of entitlements?! Frankly, I don’t see the entitlements I got as a burden on the taxpayer. Honestly, I don’t think many people do. However, I do see the poorly prioritised spending in certain areas of this government as a burden to the taxpayer. Definite question should be raised when you have a politician saying, “we want to make sure everyone in society be contributing a “fair” share in repaying public debt” (fine!) but then only marginally tax the rich, and provide government concessions to obsolete industries like the coal industry. While, the government heavily penalise students, low income earners, homeless people, and the sick. How is this fair?
Clearly, I can see the impacts of the reforms to further reduce those essential support lines I had gracefully got when I was an undergrad. It just seems unfair and sad that students in similar positions will have to further endure more difficulties for trying to get the same education as a person with supportive parents that are financially stable. HECS is designed to support students with little support by providing them with a low interest loan for education. Thus, education should not be seen as a commodity similar to a car or luxuries. Education is a necessity for us to be social, be cultural, and be economical in our society. Changing the interest rate to rates of other commodities in the market changes the fundamental value of education. University shouldn’t be thought as way to only get into the job market, it’s place to advance oneself and to contribute back to society.
I graduated from Uni of Sydney and now at the ANU, which are top universities. I was able to come to ANU to do the research I want without judgement or pride. I came here because it was affordable, and it had an equal footing with other universities with a good international reputation for research. Deregulation of university fees does not advance this cause! Education shouldn’t be a “choice” but a “right”. If I want choice, I can go to a supermarket.
My family are not from any political traditions, such as the liberals or labour. Therefore, I am more apolitical than most. I got here through hard work (apparently a liberal value) and through a relatively equal and robust system we have now among our universities. However, I can sense injustice when I see it. So, I can see clear injustice with these reforms. I understand governments have to work within their “economic” means, but at what cost to the people and environment? The government can bang on about improving efficiency, reduce waste, and increase economic liberties. Yeh great, but get your priorities right first!
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