The Australian Greens have called out the Liberal party for its smoke-and-mirrors approach to higher education after last night's budget announcement revealed plans to cut 20 per cent of funding from the university sector in the 2017 forward estimates and beyond.
"The Government keeps saying that deregulation is off the table but that's not true - it's not dead yet, it's simply resting. They will use a higher education discussion paper to keep flogging deregulation and increasing fees to make up the budget cuts. They don't want to be up front about this policy before the election because they know the Australian people don't want to see university fees increase," Greens higher education spokesperson Senator Robert Simms said.
"We've seen cuts to the university sector being delayed by 12 months. They're dangling Damocles Sword over the university sector.
"Once again we see the government slamming the door in the face of Australia's most vulnerable by cutting $150 million from the Higher Education Participation Program which is designed specifically to help students from low income backgrounds attend university.
"We're going to see fees increased, and we're going to see support for students stripped away - that's the Liberal party's agenda for higher education in this country. It's smoke and mirrors and the Australian people won't fall for it. The Liberals should ditch their 20 per cent cuts to the sector to provide greater certainty and stability to both universities and students."