The world is a strange place right now, and for students it ain’t becoming much easier. We’ve already seen massive university course increases, worrying effects from studying at home – and now there’s formal legislation on the table that could see you lose access to HECS loans. Great.
In a nutshell, basically if you’re a uni student and fail more than half of your subjects – you will lose access to HECS loans and other payment schemes. It’s part of a Federal Government proposal from Education Minister Dan Tehan (aka same guy who thought Africa was a fkn country).
It continues this massive upheaval of changes to the wider university system by the Libs. And this is another fab decision – just in case you were already really scared about the lack of job prospects, if you were worried about affording the rest of your degree, or even just enjoying life as a uni student (is that too hard to ask, world?!).
For those keeping score, this yr the govt has:
1. Raised the cost of arts/ law degrees for students;
2. Said they were prioritising ‘job-ready’ degrees, but actually cut govt funding for them;
3. Told students if they fail 4 first-yr units they’ll lose hecs + pay intl prices. https://t.co/XwcZCjxFI3
— Justine Landis-Hanley (@justinel_h) August 13, 2020
And that’s one of the things I hate the most. The government are getting really strict on university changes here – despite all these Boomer politicians receiving free education, ~irony~. Not to mention that HECS is a massive help for your general lifestyle.
Going to uni, or studying at a tertiary level, is half about actual studies and half about continuing to find yourself as a person, figuring out where you want to contribute in life, and also meeting amazing people. Yet the government is making it an increasingly less enjoyable place to be, with more, and more worries attached.
And god help you if you have anything remotely going on outside of your uni life. Family drama, relationships, social life, anxieties, mental health – honestly, I could go on. What this new proposed law would do is essentially punish the vulnerable – rather than trying to help them.
Just to flesh out the impact of Dan Tehan’s terrible proposal to cut students who fail 50% of their courses out of HECS. I’ve had variations on this conversation many times during my time as a tutor/lecturer – a student has fallen so far behind that, even with every accommodation
— Natalie Osborne (@DrNatOsborne) August 12, 2020
I failed so many courses in the 1st years of my degree because of my undiagnosed bipolar & ADHD. My cousin died in a tragic farming accident & I dropped out because I couldn’t cope. I went back 2 years later & finished. I’m not sure I’d be able to do the same under these changes
— Elise Cooper (@elisejcooper) August 13, 2020
In terms of the specifics, students who fail more than 50% of their subjects (after taking a minimum of eight units) won’t get any access to HECS, FEE-HELP or a payment-scheme equivalent. It means, that in a post-COVID world, you’ll need to pay for all of your tuition fees up front (god the internal panic has hit me).
The thing is, there are so many life concerns that can effect your studies in general. Now throw in a global pandemic, dwindling mental health and a lack of jobs = wow what a time to be alive, cheers Libs!
It’s been reported that if you can provide serious reasons as to why you’ve failed a few units (ie illness, loss, etc) you could be exempt. But we know how universities often get with this type stuff – automated-esque responses saying that there’s nothing they can do.
This makes me furious – another measure that will harm the vulnerable and hardest working. Another measure that those with parents to pay off their HECS debts and buy them apartments won’t notice.
— Melissa Davey (@MelissaLDavey) August 12, 2020
Now the thinking here from the government is, if you keep failing uni subjects, while not actually racking up any qualifications – you’re building a huge debt for nothing.
And I get that, especially if you’re going potentially years of failing units. But surely there is a smarter way to manage this? Provide more support for students, defer them for a temporary period, stand them down, send them to student counselling to work out an academic plan etc. Basically anything other than taking away HECS – which is so vital for so many.
The uni can stop failing students from re-enrolling. I was excluded for a year. That was the break I needed to work out what I really wanted. But to cut off access to HECS-HELP would have meant I could never have gone back.
— Seamus Byrne (@seamus) August 13, 2020
This proposal just lacks empathy in a time where we need it the most. It punishes those at the lower socio-economic scale of society, and says if you fuck up a few units – get ready to whip out some pineapples immediately. University should be a time of self development and nurturing – during some of the most transformational years of your life.
Those years are set to be even more transformational post-COVID, and all this type of legislation does is make the future more cloudy than it is already.
Image Source: Eriksson Luo on Unsplash