Newcastle University Students Association president Christy Mullen. Picture: Simone De PeakThe University of Newcastle’s student union says the federal government would be“punishing” students bylowering the threshold for uni loan repayments.
But federal education minister Simon Birminghamsays taxpayers are footing a bill of about $50 billion in student loans and something needs to change.
Under the new law,graduates would have to start repaying their Commonwealth-funded student loans (HECS HELP) when they earn $45,000 a year–down from the current threshold of $52,000.
Repayments would start atone per cent of their income and rise byincrements of half a per cent as they gradually earn more.
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Newcastle University Students Association president Christy Mullen is urging students to contact members of the Senate to argue that the changewould compromise access to higher education across the nation.She confirmed NUSA’s support ofthe National Union of Students and Council of n Postgraduate Associations’“bury the bill”campaign against the lower threshold.
“This is just another step the federal government is taking backwards,” Ms Mullensaid.
Federal education minister Simon Birmingham. Picture: Alex Ellinghausen
“Here in we are just punishing students for an imaginary debt crisis we didn’t create and punishing students for not being able to get high income jobs due to their university degree not being enough any more.”
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In response to Ms Mullen’s comments, Senator Birmingham said the nation needed to put higher education costs“on a more sustainable, responsible path for the future”.
“Our plan is about ensuring HELP is sustainable so future generations of students can continue to enjoy our world leading student loans scheme without having to pay a cent upfront,” Senator Birminghamsaid.
“Taxpayers are currently footing a bill of around $50 billion in student loans and unless something changes, we’ll have to write off around a quarter of that debt.
“A student loan to get a qualification improves your job prospects, however graduates should expect to repay their loans and our reforms send that message while keeping the system fair.”