Effects of the Budget on UOW students
President of the Wollongong Undergraduate Students’ Association has spoken out about the cuts to universities as part of the Budget 2014-15 and as regional students, UOW is set to be at a massive disadvantage.
Joe Hockey revealed that under the budget changes, course fees will now be uncapped and universities will have the green light to set their own tuition fees.
Graduates will also be faced with repaying their HECS HELP loans sooner and at a higher interest rate.
WUSA President, Mitchell Bresser, doesn’t see anything good coming from these cuts.
“Universities will be getting less money from the government, students will have an increase in fees, they’ll pay interest on their HEC loans and universities can charge whatever they want,” Bresser explains. “So I can’t see any positives in the slightest from these changes. Enrolments will go down.”
“As a regional university, students were already at a disadvantage in terms of infrastructure and lack of services available to us, so when you increase HECS debt, regional students are less likely to enrol in University.
University of Wollongong’s (UOW) Vice-Chancellor, Paul Wellings, spoke to UOWTV Multimedia to discuss the future of the university.
“I think inevitably what we’re going to see here is fees rising against virtually all courses delivered by all universities. I don’t think the University of Wollongong is in a unique position on that,” says Professor Wellings.
While the actual changes that UOW will face have yet to be revealed, Professor Wellings says that students can expect to see a lot of subtle changes over the next two to three years.
However, Professor Wellings is trying to keep students positive. “People shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that this is a really important moment in higher education in Australia,” he explains. “It’s not the end of the world.”
For many, university is a rite of passage and a place to go to further their education. UOW Chief Finance Officer, Damien Israel, assures students that the university won’t be hiking up prices for the sake of generating a higher surplus.
“It’s about providing content to students to support them in their studies rather than us looking at it and saying ‘Well here’s a good way to save a dollar,’” Israel says.
Most of these changes to tertiary education look set to come into effect in 2016, meaning current students will largely be unaffected, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t outraged.
With opinions mostly divided among leaders at UOW, Bresser believes that VC Wellings should take a firm stance on the issue.
“I just think the Vice Chancellor is sitting on the fence, trying to keep the peace,” Bresser says. “Either he thinks increases to fees are good or bad, it’s not hard.”
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