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Budget ’11 or: How I Learned That Our Government Completely Disregards University Students

In Politics: Economy,Politics: Genral,Politics: Tertiary Students on May 10, 2011 by mjwill91

Ok, I understand that the ’11 Federal Budget was a “Budget of difficult choices” et al, blah blah- but really, how many times are university students going to be completely ignored by the government?

Perhaps it’s because our current stock of politicians enjoyed the “free university” (relatively) of the 70s and 80s, perhaps it’s because “working families” are a vulnerable species doomed to die out if the government doesn’t constantly chuck money their way… or perhaps it’s totally in my head- that I only think we’re being ignored/hard done by because i’m a “greedy Gen-Y’er, too comfortable with getting my own way ect. ect.”

This is literally the first image returned when I searched for "Gen Y" ... on a related note: fuck you Gen X illustrator, we'd never use Friendster, you out of touch HACK!

When it comes down to it, university students are the FUTURE of this country. We become doctors, lawyers… business executives– you get the idea. So. We pay all this money (or, to be more accurate- we borrow all this money, on the proviso that we pay it back once we earn more than $50k annually), spend hours and hours studying and writing essays, juggle that with usually multiple jobs, graduate, get a high earning job (eventually) and then pay the highest amount of tax- while contributing the most to society. It seems like we give, give, give of ourselves, receive nothing in return from the government- before having the government reach into our pockets and take, take, take because we’re all of a sudden earning the sort of money that “qualifies” you for the top tax bracket.

Universities are our country's "Future Factories" - providing the nation with the people who will eventually take over the running of it, something that seems to have been forgotten...

Now some of you may argue that programs like AuStudy and AbStudy are the government’s way of giving money to university students, and while technically you’d be right, the criteria to get access to them ensures that all but the most dirt poor (sorry) are unable to receive even a single dollar in support.

For example. My parents earn around $300k collectively a year, but they haven’t spent a single dollar on sending me to university because “that’s my responsibility” – fine, I can live with that. HOWEVER- if I were to attempt to apply for AuStudy, my claim would be immediately rejected because of the wealth of my parents, and the fact I still qualify as a dependent. AuStudy is therefore flawed. It runs on the assumption that “Rich/Well Off/ Middle Class parents are the sort of parents that would be helping pay son’s/daughter’s incurred costs associated with tertiary study” – a flawed assumption to say the least.

The government currently has (or recently had) in place a rebate scheme for parents, to cover up to a certain amount (i’m pretty sure $1500) the cost of purchasing a laptop computer for their Primary School or High School child…. Ok. I can understand why a High School child needs a laptop (I did in High School), but for the life of me I can’t understand why Primary School children qualify for a laptop rebate, but university (and even TAFE) students don’t. It’s the same with text books (which are covered if you’re a high school student, but not if you’re a university/TAFE student).

Also: Mortar Board Hats are expensive- especially if you intend to graduate more than once...

In actuality, the ’11 Budget actually “took” from the university sector, with the abolition of the 20% discount on paying your HECS fee upfront. A minor gripe, seeing as the people who can usually afford to do that come from money/ are receiving a fair bit of support from their parents, but still- a step BACKWARDS in respects to how the university sector should be treated.

In reality, the government doesn’t treat the university student demographic with the respect it deserves and doesn’t offer it the help that it needs for the sole reason that the demographic is temporary, it’s population- fluid. On average people attend university for 3/4 years, before going off, getting a “real job”, settling down and becoming a member of the coveted “working family” demographic- at which time any of the gripes they had as a struggling, ignored university student fall by the wayside.

… It’s still not an excuse to “punish” those who ultimately fill society’s most important roles and are effectively the future of this country.

– Matt. @mjwill90

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