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Australia’s new Turnbull Government has delayed plans to deregulate university fee-setting, a move celebrated by the Australian National Union of Students (NUS).
As part of a tertiary education bill introduced by the former Abbott Government, the policy sought to remove the capping of annual fee rises and let universities set their own fees.
Australian Education Minister Simon Birmingham said the Government was “accepting reality” that the proposed reforms would not pass the Senate in their current form.
He said tertiary education funding would remain unchanged for 2016 and “any future reforms… would not commence until 2017 at the earliest.”
NUS President Rose Steele attributed the delaying of the policy to the success of a “two-year long campaign with students across Australia, the National Tertiary Education Union and the wider Australian community against these so-called reforms”.
NUS opposed the policy on the grounds that “deregulation would see students stuck with a lifetime of debt they have no chance of repaying. This will be particularly fraught for women students who are already disproportionately affected by debt”.
NZUSA President Rory McCourt praised the campaign work of students, the NUS and NTEU. “An arrogant and head-strong government has been forced to reconsider in the face of organised, sustained community opposition”.
McCourt said the Australian and New Zealand public “believe education should be everyone [sic], not just those whose parents can pay no matter the cost”.
Australian National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) President Jeannie Rea said the move was a “delaying tactic” aimed at “taking the heat off Prime Minister Turnbull”.
Former prime minister Tony Abbott condemned the Turnbull government’s decision. He was “disappointed” they were not committing to the deregulation policy, but sadly no one cares.