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The Australian Coalition government has announced significant cuts on universities and the abolishment of loan discounts for students. The Higher Education Support Amendment Bill foresees a decrease of AUD 903 million (EUR 610 million) on university spending during the next four years as well as estimated savings of AUD 300 million (EUR 203 million) by cancelling a 10 % discount for students who start to pay back their student loan debt during enrolment.
The amendment on university spending comes as a big surprise, considering that the Australian Minister of Education Christopher Pyne had earlier before promised that there would be no cuts on education whatsoever. The Australian Coalition government justifies the cuts by blaming budget shortfalls and the “fiscal mess” left behind by the previous Labour government. Pyne acknowledged the law’s damaging effect to universities, but deemed it necessary in the common interest of Australian taxpayers.
The law was passed in the House of Representatives and still needs to be approved by the Senate. Labour and Greens hope that some Senate members of the centre-right Coalition alliance would oppose their vote, although this seems rather unlikely due to very high Party discipline in Australian politics.
Higher Education Support Amendment (Savings and Other Measures) Bill 2013