It’s over 40 years since the Federal Whitlam Government made university education free. This was something many were pushing for at the time. My arguments for it included the point that without educated professional people this country could not function. As others also thought this way we considered that by lifting the burden of fees we should actually be paying people to undertake higher education.
Every department of government and business life requires people holding degrees and doctorates in fields relevant to their positions. The need to maintain a stream of graduates has to compete with sacrifices made on the part of students. They often surrender life-styles and other things to undertake courses.
Our hospitals need doctors, nurses and scientists. Our cities run with the help of educated graduates in law, economics, and a long list of other subjects. In a growing community that is expanding as rapidly as Australia there is no end to the number of graduates we require.
The next government that arrived a few months later quickly replaced university fees and since then they have been on the incline. The country is now in the situation of having to import qualified people from overseas to do the jobs for which Australians have been prevented from qualifying because of the cost.
The fees now are extremely high and going up by the year. Overall the cost of doing a medical degree may soon be up to $100,000. The books alone are often too expensive for students to own and they either borrow or hire them. Add to that the other equipment and costs and it is quite substantial.
While the government offers students loans it has now put a time limit on them that means the repayments may exceed one’s income when first starting out. The question is what do the politicians expect to happen. Most of the current ones got a free education or paid very little for it in the past but they are now making it not only impossible for many Australians but putting us behind the rest of the world in the education stakes.
The university students are protesting fiercely over the demonstrations that won’t stop until something better is produced. They require better financial aid and more government support for their sacrifice. The country will be better served if they get it.