What The HEC’s This?

When university student Matthew Bench found out that he would have to start repaying his HECS debt as quickly as July this year, he couldn’t believe it.

With the new budget realised for 2017, the education sector has been massively impacted. Tertiary students will have to begin to pay back their HECS as soon as their earning a wage of $42,000; an almost $13,000 decrease in comparison to the earlier threshold of $52,000.

Matthew is just one of thousands of students who juggle working full-time as well as studying.

“I study full time and also work full time… because I need to pay rent and the bills associated with moving out. It’s hard enough as it is to try and save enough for a house; I mean this change just feels like a real kick in the gut.”

matt studying

This change is not the only one which will affect university students. In fact, fees paid to students who are planning on attending university are increasing where the maximum degree cost could be $134,000 for medical students.

David Cini is a 26 year old who has a degree within the science field but is not using the degree. He says that he has always agreed with needing to pay for his education although thinks the $13,000 cut is ridiculous.

“I think it’s outrageous. It would be interesting to see where that extra money you pay for each course is going whether it’s being invested into strengthening the course or just going into the government’s hip pocket.”

The community has expressed their opinions saying they feel that the Education Minister Simon Birmingham is ‘out of touch.’

Minister Simon made this stand out comment in relation to the changes, saying that this new budget is ‘fundamentally fair’ for everyone, though not ‘everyone’ agrees.

Julie Benson, a woman in her 50’s is a qualified nurse and has been working in the field for more than 25 years.  Julie did pay a back a small HECS loan but her opinion on the new budget was similar to students who are living through the changes now.

“I think the changes to HECS are short sided. I don’t think the government has really thought through how this is going to affect young people. I think that the new payment plan is short-sided, it’s just going to put people off going to university.”


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