By STEVE HIND
Last Wednesday night on the ABC’s 7.30 Report, Christopher Pyne was asked about the potential for his proposed de-regulation of university fees to hurt women and the poor.
The exchange was:
SARAH FERGUSON: Do you accept that there is a hit in the way that you’ve set up the loan repayments that hurts women and poorer people more than it does high income earners? Do you accept that’s the consequence?
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: No, absolutely not. And I don’t accept it because what will happen at universities is that vice chancellors and their leadership teams will know that they should not charge and will not charge higher fees for courses which are typically going to be studied by people who’ll be nurses and teachers and therefore not earn high incomes over a period of time. Now, women are well-represented amongst the teaching and nursing students. They will not be able to earn the high incomes that say dentists or lawyers will earn, and vice chancellors in framing their fees, their fee structure, will take that into account. Therefore the debts of teachers and nurses will be lower than the debts, for example, of lawyers and dentists.
SARAH FERGUSON: But what happens to a female lawyer or a female dentist who takes, say, 10 years out of from the workplace to raise a family? She will pay a great deal more for her degree than a man who has no children.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well, Sarah, I feel like you’re sort of caught up on this subject and the reforms, the higher education reforms are a great deal more than simply the deregulation of fees. So, while you’re a bit caught up on one aspect of it, there are many very good aspects of this reform package which I think the Senate will find very attractive.