Students 'will never pay off HECS'
THE Federal Government's higher education fees are so high that almost a third of HECS-paying students will die before they can pay their debt off, Labor says.
Opposition education spokeswoman Jenny Macklin says massive increases in HECS fees by the Federal Government have created $2.9 billion in HECS debts that are unlikely to ever be paid back.
She says the Government must introduce a more affordable Higher Education Contribution Scheme for students to give them a hope of being able to pay their debts back.
Reports have revealed federal Education Department figures showing Australians owed more than $10 billion in HECS debt in 2003-04.
More than 28 per cent of this was unlikely to be recovered, the data showed, up from 17.4 per cent in 1995-96.
"We now have students carrying such high levels of HECS debt (that) almost a third of them won't be able to pay it back in their lifetime," Ms Macklin told reporters.
"Students and graduates have been saddled with massive levels of debt under this government and now figures show a third of them won't be able pay their HECS debts back."
Ms Macklin said many people would not have well-enough-paid jobs to require them to pay their HECS debts back.
"What that means is they're going to carry those levels right throughout their lives and even carry them to their death," she said.
She said HECS threshold should remain where it is.
"The government of course, when they first came in, dramatically reduced the threshold. That was terribly unfair to students.
"The problem is not the threshold. The problem is that students now have to pay back such high levels of HECS they're carrying very, very large debts well into their adult lives."
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