The Greens launch degree cost calculator

June 05, 2014
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Still not sure how the Abbott Government’s proposed education cuts will affect you? The Greens are here to help, with a new online cost calculator designed to help students assess the potential damage a degree will spell in the years – make that decades – to come.

According to party figures, the site, whatwillmydegreecost.com.au, has already seen over one million hits and 250,000 individual calculations since its launch by Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon yesterday.

The average fee increase calculated by the site is $44,500, with an average repayment time increase of five years, a spokesperson for Senator Rhiannon told Hijacked.

They also said the site was used by 3,500 people a minute at its peak last night.

The Greens engineered the DIY cost calculator with the aim of giving individuals – including past, present and future students – an estimate figure of prospective blows to their wallets following budget cuts to higher education.

As part of the proposed tertiary reforms, all universities have been given the green flag to boost profits by setting their own fees – a measure that will inevitably lead to a rise in course costs.

The budget also outlined a 20 per cent slump in the government contribution to course costs, a move set to save $1.1 billion over three years, and a reduction in the annual indexation of its contribution.

The Greens believe the site, which requires users to adjust variables about their study and career path in order to get an estimated figure of their resulting debt, will be a massive help to students.

“[It] will also expose Christopher Pyne’s dishonesty in regards to his cruel and sexist higher education reforms,” said Senator Rhiannon in a press release yesterday.

“Christopher Pyne’s modelling reported in The Australian today is significantly out of line with predictions in his own budget papers.

“Rather than graduating with a very generous stating salary of $67,848 in 2019, as Mr Pyne predicts, his own department says graduates will only be earning 74.3 per cent of average male weekly earnings – or closer to $55,400 [in 2014 figures],” she said.

The budget has provoked both anger and confusion among students, including thousands of protestors, ahead of its airing before a reportedly hostile parliament in July.

Alex Garcia, a current UWS Psychology in Health student with plans to study Arts, told Hijacked she was “pretty shocked” by the results of her cost calculation, but left the site feeling “a little bit sceptical” of political party tactics.

“I was told that my studies would cost me $82000 and that it would take me 34 years to pay that off on a $44000 salary,” she said. “I think the cuts are really tough – my brother's at uni at the moment, I'm planning on it and so is my little brother, so we're all going to feel it…

“I know that a lot of parties will utilise tools like the cost calculator to scare people like you and I into thinking what they want us to think. I don't appreciate scare tactics, so I'm not sure how much I trust the results.”

Alex also believes students should be expected to share the load, asking “why should someone from Mt Druitt who will never get the chance for a university education pay for others who will?”

Kristen Daly

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