Saturday, 2 November 2013

HECS style debt for TAFE students a reality today

A year ago it was a headlining question for the Illawarra Mercury.
Mr Piccoli was quoted as saying student loans "similar to those offered to university students" would be available for approved government-subsidised diploma and advanced-diploma qualifications. 
Kate Morris from Save TAFE Illawarra pointed out that TAFE did cater for a different demographic who may be reticent to take on such debt.  She went on to say:
"Under the VET [Vocational Education and Training] Fee-Help student loan scheme, TAFE students will end up with massive debts," she said.
Terry Keeley, TAFE organiser for NSWTF in Illawarra, suggested the proposed reforms would exacerbate the "horrendous fee hikes" for courses: "In some diploma courses there will be a 300 to 500 per cent increase in fees," he said.
Rob Long another NSWTF TAFE organiser also expressed criticism of "shifting the cost for the future needs of skills in Australia from Government to students.
While the implementation of Smart and Skilled with its entitlements has been delayed and the IPART pricing not released, students may have a short reprieve. 

Alarming Debt - for the nation and individuals

This 2011 article refers to 20 billion dollar HECS debt, "The public HECS debt is currently $20 billion and more than a fifth of it is unlikely to be repaid". - See more at: 
The NTEU estimate the HELP debt is increasing by 12 million dollars a day. NTEU clock show an accumulated debt of almost $35,000,000,000.


VET Fee Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) follows on from the Higher Education Contributions Scheme (HECS) scheme which was introduced in 1989 by the Hawke Labor Government. It was developed by economist and lecturer at the Australian National University, Bruce Chapman and championed by Education Minister John Dawkins. 
Under original HECS a $1,800 fee was charged to all students with the Commonwealth paying the balance. This replaced the up front $250 administration charge that had ended Australia’s brief experiment with free education in 1987.
A 2013 Productivity Commission study of income trends in Australia has found average incomes have risen from about $800 to $1100, that is 38% since 1989. On a comparative basis that would see students now taking on a HECs debt of $2484. 
However according to the Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education, Australians had an average HECS-HELP debt of $16,000 last financial year, a 789% rise in debt for University education compared to a 38% rise in income.