BENDIGO’s federal candidates have made their pledge for higher education funding.
Investment in universities was among the chief concerns raised at La Trobe University’s Democracy in Action forum on Tuesday.
Bendigo Student Association president John Traynor asked whether the parties were committed to students, after the Labor government cut $3.8 billion from the higher education sector since last October.
Greens candidate Lachlan Slade said he wanted higher education cuts to be reversed and wanted to introduce a funding increase of 10 per cent each year over the next 10 years.
He said the Greens’ policy was backed by the National Tertiary Education Union.
Labor candidate Lisa Chesters said the Labor government would lift funding by 15 per cent each year.
She said she was passionate about making Bendigo a “university city, with more investment in regional providers”.
Liberal candidate Greg Bickley said the Coalition would look at having tertiary funding from a larger pool of investment.
He said he was in support of increasing funding to the sector but was against returning to compulsory student unions.
Save the Planet candidate Dan Abikhair, who is also the vice-president of the BSA, said the current funding for student amenities should be maintained.
“The amount of services the student associations provide is amazing,” he said.
“They do it well. I think leave it to universities, leave it to students to determine the services.”
All candidates – bar Katter Australian Party’s Stephen Singel – spruiked their university credentials and spoke about their experience in student politics.
Mr Abikhair and Sex Party’s Charlie Crutchfield are both still studying.
Mr Bickley told students his last trip to La Trobe Bendigo campus was to see the Hoodoo Gurus.
Family First candidate Alan Howard said his son was at La Trobe University.
“He is no doubt studying away because he sure as hell did not want to be up here looking at me,” Mr Howard said.
Mr Traynor said the BSA was impressed with the turnout.
He said it was important students had the opportunity to pose questions directly to their local candidates. “We were amazed so many turned up,” he said.
But he said it was largely “up in the air” about whether funding after the election would be enough to support students.
He said students were also worried about student amenities and whether more funding would be cut.