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What This Year’s Budget Means For Uni Students

Increased fees and UNSW failing to answer Tharunka’s questions: what this year’s Budget means for uni students

By Dominic Giannini, Online Sub-Editor


Last week, the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) released their expectations for what the 2017 Federal Budget will look like for tertiary students.


With Paul Kniest of the NTEU predicting that the next budget will result in a “significant increase in fees paid by Commonwealth supported students” by 25% (from the current level of 40% to 50%), and the “likely” introduction of a universal administrative fee for HELP-Loans, Tharunka asked the UNSW Chancellery how this will affect students.


Writing to the UNSW Chancellery Media Liaison, Tharunka asked the following questions:


  1. In light of the article in The Australian newspaper today [10th April], with Paul Kniest from the National Tertiary Education Union estimating a 25% rise in tuition fees, does UNSW plan to raise student tuition fees in the foreseeable future?
  2. Does the UNSW Chancellery agree with proposed changes to the HECS repayment threshold and the percentage of government contributions?
  3. If the proposed changes to the HECS threshold and government contributions to students are passed, how does the Chancellery expect this will impact the average UNSW student? Will these changes be advantageous or disadvantageous to students?
  4. What does the university plan to do to protect low-income students and students from low socio-economic statuses in regards to these proposed changes that is expected to impact students form these groups the most?


A UNSW spokesperson provided the following response:


“UNSW is committed to supporting our students and always takes student welfare into account when making or reviewing policies which may have a financial impact, including the accumulation of excessive debt that becomes a financial and psychological burden later in life.

While it is difficult to provide comment in the absence of clear policy changes, the real concern for UNSW would be any change that might deter students from more disadvantaged backgrounds from going to university.  UNSW is a strong believer in the equality of access to higher education for all, regardless of ethnic group, Indigenous background or socio-economic group and has a range of measures in place to provide pathways into UNSW and support for students from under-represented groups. The 2025 Strategy reflects our commitment to diversity.”


As UNSW failed to respond specifically to each of Tharunka’s questions, we have no clear answer on what the 2017 budget will mean for uni students, nor if the University will oppose any change to the current Commonwealth repayment systems.


The Treasurer will hand down the Federal Budget on Tuesday, 9 May.


Tharunka has responded to the UNSW spokesperson, stating that our original questions were not answered and asking that they be addressed. We will provide an updated response should the University provide one.


The UNSW spokesperson has responded to our above request with the following:

“Our previous response still stands.  No one can comment on the budget changes until we know what the changes are.  If changes are announced in the upcoming budget, UNSW would consider student welfare, then review its approach and discuss any impacts and how they might be mitigated.”