The Federal Budget 2017-18 and What Does This Mean for Students?

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Treasurer Scott Morrison told parliament on Tuesday: “This budget is about making the right choices to secure the better days ahead”, with a key focus on delivering a budget that is based on the principles of:

“Fairness, security and opportunity”.

But many younger Australians were looking for the fairness Mr Morrison promised as he announced changes to university regulation, changes to HECS/HELP student loans; changes to VET, and mental health and housing affordability.

As Triple J Hack’s political reporter Shalailah Medhora said, it is a “hard sell for the government with the younger demographic”.

The ‘losers’ of this federal budget are university students, universities and foreigners. Students will have to pay more for university and will be asked to pay back their loans earlier.

From 2018, students will have to pay an extra $2,000 to $3,600 for a four-year course, which by 2022 is a fee increase of 7.5 per cent, equalling to a 1.8 per cent increase each year.

From July next year, student loans will change and students will be expected to start repaying their debt when they reach an income of $42,000 rather than the current threshold of $55,000.

Despite paying more, students’ experiences at university might not improve as universities will lose 2.5 per cent of their Government funding, equivalent to a $2.9 billion efficiency dividend over two years, depending on the university’s performance.

The Federal Government emphasises that education is an investment, however, Sophie Johnston, President of the National Union of Students, argues that “this budget is gutting ed and gutting welfare. It is an attack on young people with no vision for our future.”

The government is justifying the changes by arguing that tertiary education benefits graduates by giving them an advantage in acquiring higher paid jobs compared to those without degrees.

The Conversation – a website for academic discussion – stated that “while few students will welcome the increase, the evidence from previous fee hikes in Australia is that it will not deter many people from study”.

Professor Margaret Gardner, the President and Vice-Chancellor at Monash University, emailed her colleagues to warn that the new budget could have devastating effects on the university’s future. She cautioned that less funding to “educate and research”, would undermine Monash University’s principles of “innovation” and their large “contribution to the nation’s future”.

HAVE YOUR SAY: IF UNIVERSITIES RECEIVE SUBSTANTIAL CUTS; WILL THE QUALITY OF EDUCATION DECLINE?

Although the news for students was not heartening, young Australians who aren’t at university may benefit from other measures as the Treasurer announced over 300,000 new apprenticeships as part of the $1.5 billion program to fill gaping holes in the workforce and provide more skilled workers for businesses.

A lot of money has been dedicated to creating these positions with traineeships and apprenticeships directed at securing and keeping jobs, and “making sure people who start apprenticeships and traineeships finish them”, by establishing a new mentorship service.

Mental Health proves to be a priority in this Federal Budget, with sufferers likely to get more support, through the government’s package of $165 million to mental health support and prevention.

This package includes provision for $80 million for psychosocial support services for people with mental illnesses especially those who don’t qualify for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS); as well as a $15 million funding “boost” to mental health research, hoping to be a “positive sign for the future”.

First-home buyers looking for their break in the market, might finally get it with the new policy, targeting a series of new measures designed to improve housing affordability and ease the concern for younger Australians.

Ex Deakin Student, Darcie Anderson buys first home in Mildura. 

This policy will cost $250-million over the next four years, allowing those saving for a deposit on their first home, to be able to “save funds at a discounted tax rate by making additional contribution to their superannuation” from July 1.

The limit at which an individual can contribute and withdraw, is up to $15,000 a year, and $30,000 in total.

As Treasurer Morrison claimed that compared to a typical deposit savings account, this scheme will “accelerate savings by at least 30 per cent” and as the Federal budget document released Tuesday indicated, it will enable “first home buyers to build savings more quickly for a deposit”.

However, this has sparked controversy with some people arguing that this will increase demand in the housing market, causing housing prices to rise even more.

It seems along with university students, foreigners will also bear the brunt of the budget, when it comes to education.  

The ABC clarified,  “Australian permanent residents and most New Zealand citizens will no longer be able to apply for Commonwealth supported university places.”

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