Go8 and Birmingham: but what do they really think of each other?

The Group of Eight is “appalled” by the government releasing stats on HELP debtors, especially the national top ten who owe nearly $3m between them (CMM yesterday).

“Creating a tabloid perception that students – who are our future professionals and the generations who will use their university courses for the betterment of Australia, as, for example, doctors, nurses and sciences, teachers, engineers, nurses and even politicians – are routinely lazily racking up massive debts over many years of indolent study for no result, is a new low,” Go8 CEO Vicki Thomson said yesterday.

Ms Thomson added that if the government is worried by high HELP debt, the present package, “does nothing to address this.”

To which Education Minister Simon Birmingham replied on Adelaide radio yesterday; “the Group of Eight can continue, of course, to try to find every argument they want to defeat these policy reforms, but what they fail to acknowledge is that they’ve had enormous increases in revenue to those universities over the last seven-eight years. That they’ve gone up around 71 per cent, in terms of their revenue streams. And under our reforms, they’re still going to see average revenue growth of 23 per cent across all Australian universities.

“You do have to ask, what are universities doing enrolling students in multiple degrees in those circumstances? They have enormous autonomy under the demand-driven system. They choose to enrol students, they have clear view of the academic transcripts, records and history of different students, and yet of course they seem to be accepting this type of behaviour.”