Graduate nurses chained to HECS fees for life

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) has called on MPs and Senators to reject the Abbott Government’s proposed deregulation of university fees amid concerns the cost of a nursing degree will skyrocket up to $100,000.

With universities able to set their own course fees, ANMF Assistant Federal Secretary, Annie Butler warned that nursing and midwifery students will be “chained to HECS fees for life”, forced to work up into their late 70s to pay off the debt.

Ms Butler said: “The ANMF estimates the cost of university degrees could double and triple – with a nursing degree reaching as high as $100,000. Right now, we have more people wanting to study nursing than we have places available, but these sorts of fees will deter many and will simply make nursing impossible for students from lower socio-economic backgrounds.

“The immediate impact of such radical fee increases on nursing is obvious, but the sinister element lurking in the detail of this Bill is the Abbott Government’s introduction of American-style privatisation of Australia’s universities.

“This Bill could result in the removal of distinctions between public, private and overseas institutions and therefore the obligation for universities to focus on contributions to public good for the Australian community.

“This means that there will be some universities which will choose income over contributions to society and withdraw from even offering nursing degrees.

“It’s nonsensical that as a significant Australian nursing shortage looms over the next decade, the Abbott Government is intent on systematically destroying nursing education in this country and the hopes and dreams of thousands of Australians wanting to study nursing and midwifery each year.

“Instead of shifting the cost burden onto graduate nurses and midwives and cutting federal funding of fees, the Government should be working with the ANMF to find employment for the 3000 highly-educated Australian nursing and midwifery graduates who cannot find a job.

“Mr Abbott has already broken his election promise of not cutting the health budget and now he is doing the same with education – compromising the future of Australia’s next generation of nurses and midwives and putting all our health at risk.”

Ms Butler said the ANMF applauded the ALP and the PUP for already rejecting the Higher Education and Research Reform Amendment Bill 2014 and urges all Senators to oppose it as it is introduced into the Senate.

To date over 4000 nurses, midwives and supporters across the community have taken a stand against the Abbott Government’s budget of lies, cuts and broken promises, including the deregulation of university fees, at as part of the ANMF’s national Lies, Cuts and Broken Promises campaign.

The campaign is calling on nurses, midwives and the community to nominate their number one lie, cut or broken promise and share why this is of concern to them, their family and their community.

By taking a stand against the budget of lies, cuts and broken promises, supporters will also be asked to spread the word on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using #healthcareemergency. These shares will be directed to Ministers, MP’s and Senators to show the growing support against these broken promises and this healthcare emergency. and #healthcareemergency

 The ANMF, with over 233,000 members, is the professional and industrial voice for nurses, midwives and assistants in nursing in Australia.  

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