Open letter to the Minister for Education, the Hon. Dan Tehan MP
Dear Mr Tehan,
The recent legislation to axe the student HECS loan for students who fail 50 per cent of their units in their first year of university is an ill-judged decision. Most students in Australia rely on the benefit of being able to complete a higher education without the added pressure of paying their fees simultaneously.
Hence at a time where many are affected financially, with no foresight as to when the situation will ease, a decision like this can be a catalyst for increased worry and anxiety.
Choosing your course and commencing university can already be a hard step for many. Some are fresh out of HSC, some are mature age students who have children and spouses to care for, and many are international students who are just finding their feet in a newly foreign country. First year students do not need to be on edge of fear of having the rug pulled from under them.
In your media release, it is mentioned that the changes are to ensure whether a student was “academically suited” to their course on an ongoing basis. For myself, this takes me back to when I was in school and I had to remain in what my teachers confined me to based on my performance.
The truth is, if I had chosen to change my course in my first two years of university, I know I would have regretted it. My grades were nowhere to what they are now, but it is passion that has allowed me to excel, not my IQ. University shouldn’t just be about what you’re smartest at, but what your biggest passion is. It is the beginning of a journey that is aimed at taking you to your prime location; your career, and we should be uplifting students to do what they love. Not punish them for their shortcomings.
We understand that there have been some ingenuine students when it comes to the seriousness of their enrolment, but how great is this number compared to the majority of resilient students who are defying all obstacles to complete their degrees. Through this legislation, the Department of Education is stigmatising failure, rather than creating an open space for students. Ministers and universities need to address the core reasons behind it.
If I may, I would like to respectfully, on behalf of the many upcoming hard-working and resilient students, ask that you rethink this legislation. We are at a point where two in five school leavers enrol in higher education. We hope not to see a regression in this and continue to see an increase in university alumni across Australia.
A university student