Within the next year, a majority of the people in this room will already owe roughly $20,300 in debt, a debt that will take roughly 9 years to pay off. How in the world can an eighteen-year-old accumulate this much in debt, you may ask? Well, the answer is – university fees. This debt, along with the cost of living increasing more and more by the minute, has left us young people option less in regards to our futures, having to enter the workforce immediately after graduating, rather than applying for university and receiving any form of higher-education, because it is just simply not affordable. I will be addressing the issue of university fees, and why they must be abolished in order to give everyone an equal opportunity to pursue their academic dreams, regardless of financial status.
Equity in opportunity for students has become problematic as a result of pricey university fees, having complete disregard for who is achieving the highest academically, and rather who can pay the most money. It is as though there is a system of favouritism in the works, assisting the advantaged rather than the disadvantaged in gaining academic opportunity and developing success – but shouldn’t this be the opposite, or at least to some degree balanced? There needs to be more thought given toward those who are less advantaged. For example, in September 2017 the Australian Bureau of Statistics recorded that there were 961,000 single-parent-households, accounting for 15% of all families in Australia. How are these families supposed to make ends meet, let alone pay for a university fee of $20,000 plus when they are already living on the poverty line? Why are we stopping so many people from reaching their full potential? It seems that we are now letting class define our future.
People often fail to recognise that by making university free, it is not only the students who would be benefiting but also the whole society. We are beginning to see that more of the jobs that are currently in high demand are knowledge based or require advanced technical skills. Therefore, wouldn’t a highly-educated more skilled workforce help Australia’s economy to grow faster? By having a higher-educated workforce in our country, more people will be able to attain employer-desired credentials, thus leading to more people acquiring higher paying jobs, allow people to spend more money, meaning millions of additional dollars circulating throughout the Australian economy. This will mean that a larger proportion of the population will be taxed more, leading to the government having more money to spend on free university.
The opposition has often argued that if we abolish university fees, people will not take university seriously. Do you really think a person – who already seemingly has a bad work ethic and an immature mentality considering they do not want to take their higher-education seriously – will waste their time applying for a university, where they will then consistently have to write five-thousand word essays and attend lectures multiple times a week? No sane person with the ability to think with logic and reason would want to put themselves through that if they did not want to seriously be there, and besides; a majority of people will be there for the right reasons.
Although the issue of university fees is primarily an economic one, it is also a philosophical one. Australia is a nation which stands for equality, however our education system does not represent this. In reality, one’s ability to achieve their full potential is dependent on their social standing. Social mobility has been eroding for the poor and middle class, leading to an even greater social divide between classes. One idea that came to me, which would tie in well with this paragraph is mentioning how the glorious ‘Australian dream’ is essentially limited to the wealthy, and how equal opportunity and getting a ‘fair go’ was an enticing incentive for our parents to migrate here, however instead, they, and now us, are confronted with this disarming reality – this would add an emotive element that your classmates can resonate with.
Even after being accepted into a university course, students often are not allowed the opportunity to reach their full potential as they are constantly worrying about how they are going to scrape together enough funds to meet their fees. Without fees, students would be able to focus more on their studies, allowing them to graduate on time, ready to enter straight into the workforce rather than having to worry about having to pay off thousands of dollars of fees. This means that people would have more freedom to pursue their dreams and ambitions and start the next chapter of their lives, leading to happier people and a more prosperous nation as a whole.
It is often argued that free university will lead to jobs becoming overpopulated, causing a downfall in salaries, however we need to remember that every year people retire and leave their line of work? With so many people leaving for various reasons, there is room for younger, more enthusiastic workers, providing new perspectives.
The main argument against free university is that such an idea is too expensive and there is simply no way the government can afford to pay for it. However, the government could pay for university fees if a few reasonable changes were made. This could include closing corporate tax loopholes that allow companies to legally avoid paying their full share of taxes, increasing the tax rates for Australia’s wealthiest millionaires and billionaires, diverting money currently spent on student financial aid and cracking down on wasteful government spending.
To conclude my arguments, I want to leave you guys with a thought. How would you feel if you were denied your basic human right to education because you don’t have enough money or you’re too scared to put yourself into debt? How is this fair? Wealth shouldn’t be able to deny you of your learning and most definitely should not be the deciding factor of whether you achieve your dreams or not.