Tuesday, 17 March 2015

In which Australian Education Minister Christopher Pyne's nose grows longer and longer.....

The Australian depiction of Christopher Pyne and his deregulated university course fees

This was the Australian Education Minister Christopher Pyne being interviewed by The Insiders program on 15 March 2015:

Labor of course are the only reason why the crossbenchers are where the action is because Labor's taken themselves out of the conversation by being political opportunists, except of course we now see that they represent an existential threat to universities because of Kim Carr's policy of putting caps back on, paying on outcomes and shutting out low socioeconomic status students from university.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics Education and Work, Australia, May 2014 clearly states that:

Of those engaged in formal study, approximately 1.2 million (40%) were attending a higher education institution….
More than one third (39%) of people aged 15–64 years who were enrolled in a non-school qualification were studying for a Bachelor Degree….

Leaving aside the fact that is was past Labor federal governments which introduced first free university education then later low, no-interest loans to meet the shortfall between government funding of university places and course costs and, even adjusting this attendance figure for overseas students studying in this country, that still leaves an est. 1 million domestic university students of which an est 17.5% are from low socio-economic backgrounds.

In fact, the reason that the percentage stands nationally at an est. 17.5 is because the former Gillard Labor Government uncapped Commonwealth supported student places at Australian universities under the demand-driven system in 2012 and, this led to an immediate 0.5% enrolment increase within twelve months of low socio-economic students [Socio-economic Status of Schools and University Academic Performance: Implications for Australia’s Higher Education Expansion, December 2014]

Some universities can now boast 20% or more students from low-income family backgrounds.

When comparing the percentage of such students in the final years of the Gillard Government with percentages during the Howard Coalition Government, it is clear that numbers being admitted to university from this group were lower during the Howard years – in the first three years the percentage never rose above 14.7% [Socioeconomic Background and Higher Education Participation, 2002] and didn’t reach 16% until the early 2000s.

Mr. Pyne appears to have offered up his strange claims to voters before this.

As Labor’s higher education policy, the Shadow Minister for Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Industry Kim Carr pointed out at a Universities Australia conference on 12 March 2015.

The Minister and some supporters of deregulation have chosen to wilfully misinterpret my past remarks as a signal that Labor intends to impose an enrolment freeze.

Let me categorically reject that claim.

Mr Pyne’s so-called analysis of these claims is based on a lie.

Under Labor, the number of student places will continue to grow. Under Labor, universities will be properly funded.

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