Sections

Services

Information

UK United Kingdom

Uni cuts force students to skip class, meals

The Australian government’s recent proposed cuts to university funding and student loans will cost universities A$1 billion…

Changes to student loans may make it harder for students to balance study and work, the chief of Universities Australia said today. AAP Image/Dan Peled

The Australian government’s recent proposed cuts to university funding and student loans will cost universities A$1 billion a year by 2017 and make it harder for people to balance study and work, the chief of the peak body for Australian universities said today.

Professor Sandra Harding, Vice-Chancellor of James Cook University and chair of Universities Australia, told the National Press Club today that a new study funded by Universities Australia showed over 80% of full time university students must find a job while studying.

“A majority reported that their job adversely affects their performance at university. A third of Australian undergraduate students said that they regularly miss classes because of employment obligations; and about 17% said that they regularly went without food or other necessities because they were unable to afford them,” she said.

Her comments follow the government’s announcement it would fund the Gonski school reform plan by cutting $900 million from university funding through an efficiency dividend on universities of 2% in 2014 and a further 1.25% in 2015.

It will also convert some student scholarships to loans and remove the current 10% discount students enjoy when they pay their HECS/HELP fees up front.

“When you throw in the cuts to student support, Universities Australia estimates the combined effect on universities and students is a loss of around $1 billion per annum at 2017. These are cuts that keep on taking,” Professor Harding said.

“Added to this is the $1 billion lost to universities and students announced just over six months ago as part of the mid-year budget review process.”

Professor Harding said that “less support, greater costs will put enormous pressure on some families and young people when they come to consider whether to go on to university or not.”

The government has set a target of having 40% of all 25 to 34 year-olds hold a qualification at bachelor level or above by 2025, and recently lifted the cap on student enrolment numbers.

However, university funding had not kept pace with growing demand, Professor Harding said.

“Surely there can be no debate that Australia’s greatest resource is our people. You don’t have a mining boom if people don’t find the resource in the first place, then mine it, sell it, and use it,” she said.

“And you don’t have a smarter people if Australia’s public investment in tertiary education as a percentage of GDP is less than 24 of the world’s 29 advanced economies.”

Sign in to Favourite

Join the conversation

35 Comments sorted by

Comments on this article are now closed.

  1. James Hill

    Industrial Designer

    And, surely, there must be some recognition that students work to pay the rent as much as their other expenses.
    All part of the vast real-estate scam that universities, in reality, represent.
    Bring on the NBN and distance education to escape this banking/housing cartel.
    Please do not blindly displace the rightful sympathy for the plight of students from this obvious drain on their time and money by just ignoring it all together as some sort of "externality" when housing expenses for students are an absolutely foundation concern.
    An Abbottian, "it just is" obsfucation does not cut it in this debate.

    report
    1. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to James Hill

      And surely, you do generalise so much James.

      A Gillardism " Just borrow more and if you're like me and Wayne, never think about paying it back "

      report
    2. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Greg North

      The specialists have done so well, Greg, that a bit of generalism would not go astray as an antidote.
      I believe that economically responsible governments borrow money to spend money on the expectation that the subsequent investments will pay for themselves.
      That is the correct ctiterion surely.
      Whereas the economic Huns buy votes with middle class welfare.
      That is a short-term political return but an economic time bomb surely?

      report
    3. Leigh Burrell

      Trophy hunter

      In reply to James Hill

      "All part of the vast real-estate scam that universities, in reality, represent. Bring on the NBN and distance education to escape this banking/housing cartel."

      You need a home to plug into it, genius. Can't have fibre to the home without a home.

      report
    4. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Leigh Burrell

      But, Leigh, if we extend the logic a bit further, then those homes od which you write will be much cheaper beyond the concentrated services such as universities, which in turn jack up the prices of housing as a result of a scarcity of land.
      One does not have to be a genius to detect a threat to real estate values, be they campus complexes, shopping malls, mortgages on homes of unsustainable price, etc, in the decentralising tendency of the NBN.
      A threat to real estate values which will elicit a defensive response manifested as a compaign against the NBN?
      You can see that logic surely?
      Look up "Schumpeter Storm" for a clearer exposition of the argument, if you are interested?

      report
  2. leonie wellard

    retiree

    There is also the option of enrolling in Part time studies if you can't afford to do full time. That's a way to start and then switch to to full time when finances are better.

    report
    1. Nigel Howard

      Student, Retail Worker

      In reply to leonie wellard

      It's a way to start, sure. Part time studies also mean delayed entry into the workforce, which means a reduction in lifetime earning capacity and potentially a delayed or financially strained retirement.

      I would also suggest that a switch to full time study 'when finances are better' is likely to result in finances becoming worse. There are only so many hours in the week (which is the issue) - increasing the barriers to tertiary education for those unable to financially support themselves while maintaining full time university commitments.

      report
    2. Mark Rossi

      Registered Building Practitioner

      In reply to leonie wellard

      I have been working for many years, and decided to go back to University part time. It is very hard on the finances and is becoming increasingly harder for mature students to do this with the cost of University increasing as well as all other general living expenses.

      report
    3. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Nigel Howard

      For Nigel and Mark, studying will surely be tougher for some than others, particularly if one has to live away from home but Leonie is on the money with part-time studies and it is really up to the individual just how they do it, the effort they are prepared to put in and the commitment that will determine just how long their studies will take and their life-time earning capacity will also be determined by those factors and much more than just their study and how they did it.

      I was just 16 Nigel…

      Read more
  3. John Kelmar

    Small Business Consultant

    Unfortunately the demographic of today's student is that as soon as they enter university they believe that they should leave their parent's home, buy a new car, and take overseas holidays to places like Bali during every semester break. This forces them to find jobs to pay for their lifestyle and new found freedom.

    What is needed is a reality check for these students. It is far cheaper to stay at home with their parents, share cars with their mates, and holiday at the local beach resort in…

    Read more
    1. david henry

      Electrician

      In reply to Nigel Howard

      As a tax payer, if a student is unable to satisfy the requirements of year 12 in some shape or form, I would consider them required to prove themselves via some other mechanism before I pay for them to have a HECS funded tertiary place. The obvious simple option is to repeat yr 12. There is no point investing in square keys if you have a round keyhole.

      report
    2. Rob Lewis

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Nigel Howard

      Its a narrative that's been around for eon's - every generation thinks the generation that comes after them are a bunch of no-good slackers. Just smile, nod and move on.

      From my experience as an educator, I find today's cohort no different from the cohort I was a student of back in the early nineties. The assertion that students today are 'not as smart as they once were' - in my opinion is false. In some ways today's students are of a greater standard than yesterday's students, with the bonus of access to learning resources only just being dreamt of when I went through uni.

      report
    3. Charles Latimer

      Governance and Policy Adviser

      In reply to Rob Lewis

      Rob, I'm not sure which institution you're teaching at, however having just finished the second of two Master's degrees - each at a major Australian University, I was stunned at the situation in relation to poor standards. I completed my degrees as a fee-paying student whilst in the workforce and witnessed a range of issues the worst of which included students who had little to no analytical skills demonstrated on their work receiving credit marks or above, widespread cheating in the notorious group work and what appears to be students being conveniently given passes for their courses when in fact they had failed. This situation is well known to academic staff and requires investigation and public exposure.I agree that students are no less intelligent than previous years however the standards expected of them have dropped.

      report
    4. Liam Hanlon
      Liam Hanlon is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Student

      In reply to John Kelmar

      Actually for most people its not cheaper to stay at home. Parents usually ask for rent, which is fair enough, but Centrelink decides you can either have no payment if you live at home or if you can its severely reduced. If I lived at home I'd have about $250 a week to live off. Would probably be paying the parents about $100 for rent, then transport costs to uni and work adding up to about $20. $130 a week for other living expenses and a social life (everyone needs a social life) is nothing.

      I like to save money as well, and yes I try to go on overseas trips when I can but I live low budget all year to do so. Saying students aren't struggling because they decide to do less by saving a large amount of their income is stupid.

      report
    5. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Liam Hanlon

      " If I lived at home I'd have about $250 a week to live off. Would probably be paying the parents about $100 for rent, then transport costs to uni and work adding up to about $20. $130 a week for other living expenses and a social life (everyone needs a social life) is nothing."

      That's so so tough Liam and maybe you had better decide where your priorities lie.

      As for parents usually asking for rent, seems as when a parent I was far too generous in never even having thought of charging my daughters as they pursued tertiary education.
      Not only that I was always one of those Dad's taxi services until Dad didn't have the car because the daughters were using it.
      They both worked part-time too mind you.

      report
    6. Liam Hanlon
      Liam Hanlon is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Student

      In reply to Greg North

      See this is the problem, people like you think because we're students we should live in poverty...despite the fact most of us study 4-5 subjects (about 40 hours work required a week) and work part time.

      report
    7. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Liam Hanlon

      One problem you will discover so much more about as you grow older Liam is that many of the world's problems are as a result of lack of self discipline and commitment in the wrong directions.
      If you follow the same path personally, then you'll have to expect to be personally responsible for outcomes or should at least if you have a responsible outlook on life.

      Yep, studying is a form of work, working towards your future in which you'll still need to work.
      I am not saying you should live in poverty and you would seem to be a long way from it compared to others and even myself when I studied if you have a look at my earlier post.

      report
    8. Sean Lamb

      Science Denier

      In reply to Liam Hanlon

      "I like to save money as well, and yes I try to go on overseas trips when I can"
      Liam, if you take overseas trips then you aren't living in poverty. Personally I don't see anything wrong with students living in poverty, I know I lived in poverty when I was a student.

      Someone used to worked with said she always knew when she was on campus because the fashion standard rose dramatically.

      report
    9. Liam Hanlon
      Liam Hanlon is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Student

      In reply to Sean Lamb

      So because you lived in poverty that makes it okay? God that is such BS and you know it. Considering the vast wealth in Australia we can afford to have students living above the poverty line.

      report
    10. Michael Shand
      Michael Shand is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Tester

      In reply to Greg North

      "As for parents usually asking for rent, seems as when a parent I was far too generous in never even having thought of charging my daughters as they pursued tertiary education." - probably becuase you werent an absolute bastard like Liam's were

      What parent takes 40% of their chlds income as rent when they are studying, either liam is lying or his parensts are potentially psycopaths

      report
    11. Michael Shand
      Michael Shand is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Tester

      In reply to Liam Hanlon

      "I like to save money as well, and yes I try to go on overseas trips when I can" - sorry liam you just shot your credibility with this statement.

      Where does it end? "Sure I like to go to dinner at a resteraunt and then the opera but I am struggling in poverty"

      or is it that you went to bali but could barely afford to trash your liver and cause long term brain damage via drinking

      If you could afford to save and go on oversea's holidays as a student when I cant afford to go overseas as a fulltime worker then its over, dont want to hear anymore of it, cant play with it, Cant win with it

      report
    12. Liam Hanlon
      Liam Hanlon is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Student

      In reply to Michael Shand

      Well the facts clearly state I live just out of poverty. The link I posted before says poverty line is $480 a week. I live on $500 a week.

      I afford to save money because I don't buy any clothes, don't eat meat (that reduces a shopping bill), socialise with friends maybe once a week, don't buy all the latest gadgets etc.

      Maybe you are just bad at saving or buy a bunch of crap you don't really need or have gotten yourself into credit card debt...also maybe you should try travelling on a budget...guarantee…

      Read more
    13. Sean Lamb

      Science Denier

      In reply to Liam Hanlon

      Liam, there are single parents who are trying to raise kids on less than $500 a week.

      There are people working full time on around $600 a week. There are hundreds of thousands of people in Australia living below the poverty line, but unlike students many of them don't have well paid futures to look forward to.
      I seem to remember living on Austudy, not particularly well and generally I used savings to make life a bit more comfortable.

      report
    14. Liam Hanlon
      Liam Hanlon is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Student

      In reply to Sean Lamb

      Yeah and single parents should have never been moved on to Newstart in the first place. I support raising welfare across the board and making sure everyone is on a living wage, not a minimum wage. Australia's rich enough to help everyone out the bottom live with some degree of comfort.

      report
  4. Darren Parker

    logged in via Facebook

    So in other words, nothing's changed much?

    report
    1. Darren Parker

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Charles Latimer

      I meant "no change" in the sense that students ALSO need to work and sacrifice to study.

      report
  5. Terry Mills

    lawyer retired

    As a mature age, conscientious student some ten years ago, I was frequently loaded up with other student's voice recording devices when they skipped lectures for any one of a multitude of excuses; I imagine that as most lectures are now available as a download or can be viewed online there is even more incentive to miss lectures particularly as, generally speaking, lectures do not involve discussion or questioning; check to see how many skip tutorials.
    Certainly, students skip meals too, it has ever been thus; check to see how many skip friday night partying for a clear picture of uni. life.

    report
  6. Daniel Boon

    logged in via LinkedIn

    Having read through the various observations, I (as a mature aged student) have witnessed the wider spectrum of comments made ... an overseas student preferred to go surfing off Indonesia than take advantage of some funding (Bond Uni) to research subject matter to increase comprehension of the real world.

    I've seen a young Chinese student ravenously eat dry sliced white bread out of the plastic bag and another in a team cut n paste and get the pass ... girls dressed modestly to the other spectrum…

    Read more
  7. Bronislaw Tabaczynski

    Senior Travel Consultant

    Years ago I was a Federal Parliamentary candidate and part of my platform was that education whether kindergarten, primary, secondary, TAFE or University should be universally free. That means no fees. None of any kind. Of course education does actually cost a lot of money. So as part of that same policy platform i came up with a payment method based on the Medicare Levy model except that I called it the Education Levy.. It was however a bit different from the Medicare Levy in that it had 2 components. One was a 1.5% income tax component and the other was a 1.5% GST component. Both of these would have been in addition to the normal income and GST rates. My thinking about this Education Levy has not changed much since the 1998 Federal Election except that today I would actually add a third component. A 1.5% corporate tax.

    report
  8. Michael Shand
    Michael Shand is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Software Tester

    Not a very convincing article, 80% of full ti,e students also have to work a job....so nothing has changed then?

    I'm sure it has in some way but that didnt come across in this article, we expect anyone to complain when they get less money so your job as an author here is to demostrate that these are adversly affect education

    You havent all you have done is cried about money and stated that the student lifestyle requires sacrifices, forgive me for not caring

    report