Labor education spokesman visits Bendigo

FEDERAL Labor's education spokesman Kim Carr slammed the Coalition's education policies yesterday during a visit to La Trobe University's Bendigo campus.

VISITING: Labor education spokesman Kim Carr with Lisa Chesters at La Trobe University yesterday. Picture: BRENDAN McCARTHY

VISITING: Labor education spokesman Kim Carr with Lisa Chesters at La Trobe University yesterday. Picture: BRENDAN McCARTHY

Mr Carr and Member for Bendigo Lisa Chesters told a crowd of about 50 people that people from low socio-economic areas would be priced out the higher education market if the Coalition's education polices passed through parliament.

Mr Carr said students who did go to university would be left with crippling levels of debt.

"What we know is that the $100,000-degree poses a huge threat to the Australian idea of a fair go," he said.

"For many students, particularly students from regional and rural Victoria, there will be great disadvantage.

Mr Carr said the Labor party would continue to negotiate with the independent and minor party senators to try to block the Coalition's education policies in the senate.

Mr Carr was referring to the Coalition's budget announcement it would deregulate university funding - allowing universities to raise fees - while also cutting the amount of money the government contributes to student fees by an average of 20 per cent.

At present, students on HELP places have part of their fees paid subsidised by the government and the rest is covered by a government loan, which the student must pay back throughout the working life.

University chancellors have raised concerns some students would be charged in excess of $100,000 for a degree.

Ms Chesters said the question facing today's high school students was not which university to go to but whether or not they should attend university at all.

A spokesman for Education Minister Christopher Pyne said the reforms would ensure Australian universities could compete internationally.

He said students would not have to pay any fees upfront and a university degree would bring them significant advantages throughout their lifetime.

"Over their lifetime graduates may earn around one million dollars more than if they had not gone to university," he said.

"Graduates should make a fair contribution to the cost of their education given the extraordinary personal benefits."

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