Centre Alliance will support the government’s plan to increase higher education fees | The Canberra Times

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The Centre Alliance has come under fire from Labor, the Greens and independent crossbenchers including Senator Jacqui Lambie after the party announced it would support the government’s higher education changes. The government said the changes, which were announced earlier this year, were aimed at improving job outcomes for graduates and encouraging students to study degrees in areas where Australia has a skills shortages. The changes accommodate for decreases in fees for units involving teaching, nursing, agriculture, maths, English and languages, environmental science, health, architecture, IT and engineering. On the other hand students pursuing humanities degrees could face a 113 per cent increase while law and commerce degrees could cost up to 28 per cent more. A two year freeze on funding increases has also been lifted which will see university funding per student increase annually according to the consumer price index. On Tuesday, Centre Alliance’s education spokesperson Senator Rebekha Sharpie announced the party would support the changes in exchange for extra funding for universities in South Australia. Senator Sharkie said the bill was not perfect but it did secure funding certainty for universities which were facing financial hardship. “Another positive outcome of these reforms will hopefully be a strengthened focus on domestic students, particularly domestic students from the regions who have under-represented in our universities,” she said. She said they had also secured a fairer deal for South Australian Universities with the government agreeing to fund an additional 12,000 places across three universities. Securing the votes of Centre Alliance became crucial for the government after independent senators Lambie and Rex Patrick announced they would not support the bill. Both senators took to Twitter to express their frustration after Centre Alliance announced their support. Labor Lyons MHR Brian Mitchell said it was deeply disappointing that the South Australian members of Centre Alliance had decided to support the bill. He said the decision amounted to a South Australian party looking after their own political interests and not the interests of students elsewhere, including Tasmania. “It is a bad bill and I am deeply disappointed that Centre Alliance is backing it … at its core this bill does not progress the interests of higher education,” Mr Mitchell said.


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