01.Uni costs could triple, death no escape
Now that the 2014 Budget has paved the way for the deregulation of university fees, questions have been raised about just how much more money students may have to cough up for a degree in the not-too-distant future. Experts in the field have suggested university costs could skyrocket. And if Education Minister Christopher Pyne's recent comments are anything to go by, HECS debt could be collected from the estates of those who died owing the government for their education.
In comments made to Fairfax Media earlier this week, Pyne indicated he had no "ideological opposition" to the idea. He reportedly said: "[If] an elderly person passes away with a HECS debt, they wouldn't be able to say to the bank, we're not paying back our mortgage, yet they are at the moment entitled to not pay back their HECS debt." The comments are however in contradiction to those made by Prime Minister Tony Abbott on ABC NewsRadio.
Abbott reportedly said: "I want to make it absolutely crystal clear this government is not going to change the existing rules... And the existing rule in respect of university debts, fee help debts, HECS debts, is that they cease, they cease, on decease, as it were."
Just how much could university fees rise?
Students in the dark about future fees
Meanwhile, students who are enrolling in university in the mid-year intake, for which applications close in the next fortnight, are in the dark about how much their university courses will cost them.
According to the Budget papers, a student who accepts an offer to enrol in a university course after 14 May this year will be subject to the newly deregulated university fees from 2016. But Prime Minister Abbott seemed to give a conflicting picture. He told ABC radio: “If you start next year your conditions of study won't change. It's only for those who start when these changes kick in 2016 that will have the different conditions applying to them.”