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Farrago Policy Comparisons #2: Education

What do the parties and candidates have to say about education or supporting students?

This edition of Policy Comparisons we are looking at Education, with a focus on Higher Education (University and TAFE). It has been an especially challenging few years for students, both with their study and broader life.

What do the parties and candidates have to say about education or supporting students? 

 

Liberal / National Coalition
Key people: Stuart Robert MP (acting Minister for Education and Youth).

In 2020, the Coalition Government legislated the Job-Ready Graduate Package Bill. This was meant to encourage uptake in priority areas such as education, nursing or STEM courses with reduced fees, but came at the cost of higher fees for other courses, especially humanities and social science.

In late 2021, the Education Minister caused controversy by vetoing several Australia Research Council approved projects, including on "student climate action and democratic renewal” and "memory politics in modern China”.

The Government has promised to deliver 100,000 new university places over the decade (including 30,000 in 2021) and 50,000 short course places.

More Coalition policies:

  • Encourage industry-university connections with Trailblazer Universities.
  • Encouraging upskilling and retraining with short courses.

 

Labor
Key people: Tanya Plibersek MP (Shadow Minister for Education), Graham Perrett MP (Shadow Assistant Minister for Education).

Labor has promised to add 20,000 more supported university places and 45,000 fee-free TAFE places.

Additional funding will be prioritised for universities delivering courses in “clean energy, advanced manufacturing, health and education” and other areas with skills shortages.

More Labor policies include:

  • 10% of workers on major government projects are guaranteed to be a trainee or apprentice.
  • StartUp Year loans for graduate students to start a business.

 

Greens
Key People: Senator Mehreen Faruqi (Spokesperson for Education), Senator Dorinda Cox (Spokesperson for Science, Research and Innovation).

One of the key Greens campaign policies is “Free Education for Life”, including making higher education free and forgiving all student HECs debt.

The Greens have also called for removing the aforementioned Ministerial veto over research grants, including with their Australian Research Council Amendment (Ensuring Research Independence) Bill 2018.

More Greens policies include:

  • Free period products in schools.
  • Give students a liveable income.
  • Make universities more sustainable with a Green Education Infrastructure Fund.

 

Independents
The independent MP for Warringah Zali Steggall supported the Greens' Bill to remove the Ministerial veto over research grants. She criticised the Government over the Job Ready Graduate Package for the rising cost of degrees and also drew attention to the lack of JobKeeper support for Universities.

 

Minor Parties
Concluding with some of the minor parties that have interesting policies on education (long list this time).

Australian Democrats have called for increased pay to support teachers and replacing NAPLAN with a better form of assessment.

Australian Progressives oppose deregulation of university fees and support free higher education and more postgraduate research scholarships.

The Australian Values Party has called for the formation of a National Employment And Education Pathways Strategy (NEEPS) to encourage education and training for key areas (such as health), through free TAFE and forgiving HEC-HELPs debt.

The Fusion Party believes in maintaining the HECs loan schemes to support students. They also want to increase funding for research and reduce the amount of time taken up by grant applications.

Liberal Democrats likewise want to maintain the HECs scheme (though perhaps with less government funding) and want more competition between universities to attract students.

Reason Australia has called for a “future focused” education and university sector. This includes more job security for casual tutors and more investment across science, humanities, health and engineering.

Sustainable Australia wants a “world-class” education sector including free university and TAFE for Australian citizens, as well as forgiving existing HECs debt.

The United Australia Party (UAP) have also urged abolishing HECs debt for students. 

 

 

Sources

Liberal
https://www.liberal.org.au/our-plan/youth

 

Daniel Hurst. 2021. “Federal government’s Christmas Eve veto of research projects labelled ‘McCarthyism.’” The Guardian
https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/dec/24/federal-governments-christmas-eve-veto-of-research-projects-labelled-mccarthyism

 

Labor
https://www.alp.org.au/policies/your-education

 

Greens
https://greens.org.au/platform/education#wipe-student-debt

 

Zali Stegall
https://www.zalisteggall.com.au/zali_steggall_mp_opposes_the_higher_education_support_amendment_job_ready_graduates_and_supporting_regional_and_remote_students_bill_2020

 

Australian Democrats
https://www.democrats.org.au/schooling/?swcfpc=1

 

Australian Progressives
https://www.progressives.org.au/education

 

Australian Values Party
https://australianvalues.org.au/education

 

Fusion Party
https://www.fusionparty.org.au/education_for_life

 

Liberal Democrats
https://www.ldp.org.au/decentralised_education

 

Reason Australia
https://www.reason.org.au/universities_and_tafe

 

Sustainable Australia
https://www.sustainableaustralia.org.au/education

 

United Australia Party
https://www.unitedaustraliaparty.org.au/national_policy/

 
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