Greens higher education spokesperson Senator Robert Simms has revealed the Greens plan to reduce HELP debts by 20 per cent and re-instate student start-up scholarships.
"We're constantly hearing the argument from the government that students need to carry the burden for their chronic under-funding of the university sector, but this is simply untrue and unfair. Students shouldn't be seen as cash cows. Investment in higher education is in the public good," Senator Simms said.
"Since the introduction of HECS we've seen a continuous increase in University fees and student debt skyrocket. With the Coalition committed to deregulation, graduates would be leaving university with HELP debts the size of a housing deposit - or more. The Greens plan would reduce student fees and make higher education more accessible and affordable."
Under the plan, the Greens would also revert the Start-Up Scholarship back into a grant.
"Late last year Labor and the Coalition teamed up to turn the Student Start-Up Scholarships into a loan, lumping over 250,000 low-income students with more HELP debt, an average increase of $6,000 for a three year degree," Senator Simms said.
"This package has been fully costed by the Parliamentary Budget Office, at $1.4 billion per year. By continuing the deficit levy on a permanent basis we will raise $1.55 billion per year, ensuring the HELP debt reduction and Student Start-Up Scholarships being reverted to a grant are cost neutral - This way, students' debt burden is borne by those who can most afford it.
"These initiatives show that only the Greens will stand up for students and resist the Labor and Liberal parties attacks on the higher education sector."