By Tanya Plibersek

28 October 2020




SUBJECTS: Scott Morrison’s huge university fees and student debts; education for disadvantaged kids.
TANYA PLIBERSEK, SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION AND TRAINING: New research published in The Australian today shows that university students are going to end up with thousands of dollars of debt, American-sized university debts because of Scott Morrison's changes to university funding. Scott Morrison said that his changes would discourage students from studying the humanities. He's put up the price of humanities degrees, in some cases more than doubling the cost of a degree. In fact, we see students are continuing to study humanities in even higher numbers.
This is a real failure for the Morrison Government but it’s a real tragedy for students. Because what we see are these kids who had the year from hell in their final year of school. They've been working hard, they've been remote learning, they've missed out on a whole lot of rites of passage that normal teenagers would expect in their final year of high school, and now they're being saddled with huge university debts.
We are struggling through a recession at the moment. The Government tells us that unemployment is still likely to be high in 3 or 4 years’ time when these young people are graduating. They're going to be graduating with thousands of dollars of additional debt because the Liberal Government has passed legislation that makes going to university more than twice as expensive for many students. All these kids want is an opportunity to study hard, to work hard, to go to university. To work towards the career that many of them have been planning for and dreaming of for many years. That's what their parents want for them as well. They want their kids to have an opportunity to study hard and get the job of their dreams – and Scott Morrison is crushing those dreams. He's crushing those dreams in the middle of a recession when these kids don't have a lot of other options.
I also wanted to make a brief comment about a report released by The Mitchell Institute today about schoolkids- younger children and educational disadvantage. The report from the Mitchell Institute today with Sergio Macklin as the author, shows that educational disadvantage in Australia is still extreme. It’s extreme for the poorest kids in Australia. They are struggling, and they are falling behind. We could fix that. As a nation if we invested in more resources targeted towards kids who are struggling, we could turn this around. Of course this would make a huge difference for these children. What the report shows is that kids who struggle in school are often struggling after school to find work or to do further study. So we can turn things around for these kids, the most disadvantaged. But we could also be making this investment in the Australian economy, because we know that education absolutely goes hand-in-hand with productivity. If we want to see Australia recover from the recession strongly, we need to be investing now to make sure that this educational gap closes.