Student Organisations Condemn Loan Repayment Proposal21 January 2016
Student-based organisations are condemning a recent proposal put forth by a member of the Liberal party to allow students to tap into superannuation funds to repay their university loans.
The model, proposed by Liberal Senator Chris Back, would ideally allow for students to repay loans more easily, instead of after achieving an income threshold. The repayment threshold is currently set at $54,126 per annum.
If students opt into repaying loans through their superannuation, they would be required to repay their super funds at a later date.
Senator Back is confident the proposal will be included in this year’s federal budget.
“If not, I am very very hopeful it will find its way into our policies going forward into 2016 election,” he told the ABC.
Despite this, student associations on a local and national level are condemning this proposed loan repayment model.
“Allowing or encouraging graduates to take money out of super to pay HECS undermines the whole point of the compulsory super system,” says University of Melbourne Student Union Education Officer Tom Crowley.
“Even if you introduce catch-up payments, graduates are going to be left financially worse off at some point in their lives. This is a daft thought bubble and a hard one to justify.”
The National Union of Students has also expressed concern at this proposal. In a press release, NUS president Sinead Colee has stated that “there is no substitute for adequate funding in tertiary education”.
The NUS has also directed attention to the current financial inequalities between women and men, pointing out that women end up with less superannuation than men on average. The NUS argues that women in particular will be negatively impacted by this proposal.
In 2015, the Higher Education Loan Programme cost the government $2.4 billion, and has lead to an accumulated $30 billion in outstanding debt.