Nature abhors a vacuum so with new education minister Dan Tehan yet to say anything about universities Tanya Plibersek is filling it. The Labor shadow minister isn’t saying anything new but she is certainly getting her core message out.
“Just before Christmas the Liberal Government put an unfair, artificial cap back onto university places. That means that over the next decade more than 200,000 students that would otherwise get a university education will miss out if this unfair cap stays in place. Labor has announced that we would uncap places again so that any Australian who’s prepared to work hard, study hard and put in the time and take on the student debt will get a great education,” she said at a door-stop yesterday with Monash U VC, and Universities Australia president, Margaret Gardner.
Professor Gardner obviously thinks this is a splendid idea, introducing Ms Plibersek to students in a Monash equity programme, who are; “an important part of making sure that education is open and available to all students irrespective of background on the basis of their aspiration and talent.”
Undoubtedly Mr Tehan will soon engage with universities, if only to make a change from being ticked-off by Catholic school system officials. But short of his matching Labor’s commitment to reinstating demand driven funding, which isn’t going to happen, it looks like Labor has an election-lock on higher education.