Unis to cop annual fees for student loans

Matt Coughlan
(Australian Associated Press)

 

The Greens have attacked Labor for backing the Morrison government’s new tax on universities.

Draft laws to slap an annual charge on higher education providers whose students are entitled to government loans for tuition costs passed federal parliament on Tuesday.

Greens education spokeswoman Mehreen Faruqi said when the government wanted to fill up its coffers it looked to cut university funding and attack students.

“This is death by a thousand cuts and it is shameful for Labor to side with this government that has cut millions of dollars from the higher education sector,” she told the upper house.

The measures are expected to raise $11.7 million over four years to help fund the Higher Education Loans Program, including administration costs, data collection, analysis and compliance.

Labor frontbencher Louise Pratt said the opposition cautiously supported the bill.

“The university sector has suffered under this government with devastating impacts on young Australians and the economy at large,” she said.

Cabinet minister Simon Birmingham said the changes would help pay for the HECS-HELP and FEE-HELP programs.

“These programs are essential in terms of support they provide to students to be able to access higher education opportunities without facing any up front fees,” he said.

The annual charge will be calculated through regulation rather than set out in the bill, which passed the Senate 36 votes to eight.

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