Tradies upfront course fees working towards extinction
THE days of tradies scratching for cash to pay for TAFE course fees upfront are working their way towards extinction.
CQUniversity vice-chancellor Professor Scott Bowman, while discussing the impacts of the Federal Budget 2014, highlighted this development as one of the positives for future CQUniversity students as the university merges with CQ TAFE on July 1.
Prof Bowman said under the changes, people wanting to get certificates in trades would be able to get a student loan like the current HELP/HECS system, paying their fees only after they started earning over the threshold amount.
"I think it is a good indication that trades training is being recognised as equal to university education," Mr Bowman said.
The government's 'earn and learn' policy has raised the age at which people can go from Youth Allowance to Newstart allowance.
"TAFE could benefit from that," Prof Bowman said.
"People will be more inclined to go into training to get a job."
The HELP/HECS threshold was also changed in the budget, decreasing the amount by just under $3000.
"Still, you are not going to pay it back until you are on a good salary," Mr Bowman said.
Other changes include the Federal Government reducing its contribution to course fees by an average of 20% and de-regulating course fees, allowing universities to charge what they wanted.
"Universities are going to review their fees because there will be a reduction in funding," Prof Bowman said.
"We are going to have to make up the shortfall. Other universities will look at this as an opportunity to hike up their fees.
"I don't think we will be a university that will do that."
He said CQUniversity had lower fees than others, but was working on a reputation of being a 'real value for money' education organisation with great job uptake rates and high starting salaries for graduates.
Mr Bowman said another positive in the budget was the $10,000 grants available to businesses who employ people aged over 50, unemployed for more than six months, and skill them up with training and certificates in that particular industry.
"We would all like to go back to a day where people didn't pay for university. That was a time where only 5-10% of people were going to university," he said.
Mr Bowman said with changes in society and the workforce, including more jobs being more technological, the rate of people going to university was up to 40% these days.
"We can't afford that (free university) as a nation."
He said while there had been cuts to research, they were no where near as big as he thought they would be.
"The Collaborate Research Infrastructure Scheme is going to be funded. That's very good for us," Mr Bowman said.
On the budget overall
"I thought it was a good budget," Mr Bowman said.
"I don't think we have any kind of debt crisis, but we need to do anything we can to stop us from getting into a debt crisis.
"I think it's going to be tough for all sections of society, but for some families, particularly in the middle income part, it will be tough."
- For 2013-14 income year, the compulsory repayment threshold is $51,309. 2014-15 = $53,345. From July 1, 2016 = $50,638
- De-regulation of university fees in 2016
- Reduction in funds from the Federal Government for courses
- Student loans for all studying diplomas, advanced diplomas and associate degrees