Turnbull Government’s University funding cuts sparks online outrage among the Australian public

Malcolm Turnbull’s early release of proposed cuts to University funding, ahead of Tuesday’s budget, has disillusioned many young Australians and led to the beginnings of an online phenomenon.

The reform, which was officially announced early last week by education Minister, Simon Birmingham, will increase fees by 7.5% by 2021, which works out to be a $3600 increase, as well as forcing graduates to repay their loans earlier and hitting institutions with a 2.5% efficiency dividend.

However, the factor which has caused the most outrage among the online community is that graduates will need to start paying back their HECs when they earn just $42 000 a year, as opposed to the current $55 000 income.

The hashtag, ‘Next Generation,’ has been circulated on Twitter, as well as many University discussion spaces on Facebook, such as ‘MonashStalkerSpace,’ and has generated a large following to air these frustrations and proactively organise protests and rallies to demonstrate the Government’s decision.

Alexis Schipano, a student at Latrobe University and member of its Student Union, stated that the Government’s scheme will only heighten an already dismal future for young Australians.

“Young people are now expected to repay their HECS debt and save for a house whilst working low-income jobs…it’s absolutely absurd. It feels like the Government is just setting us up for failure before we’ve even had the chance to pursue our goals,” says Miss Schipano.

Miss Schipano, along with thousands of other University students across the country will take to the streets on May 17, in what many are calling a “national day of action,” to protest. The demonstrations, which are largely being organised through online forums, are on the backdrop of smaller protests that have already broken out.

NSW University students attempted to block traffic outside of Malcolm Turnbull’s electorate office last Thursday, whilst others threw napkins at Mr Birmingham’s face during his address to the National Press Club. The protesters, who chanted “no cuts, no fees, no corporate universities,” had their efforts posted to Twitter, which proved to create more anti-budget sentiment among students.

These sentiments aren’t only being echoed by millennials, but older generations too. Stephen Koukoulas, Chief economist for two major banks and former treasury advisor to Julia Gillard, stated in an online tweet in the ‘Next Generation’ category that education is vital to providing the youth of today with the skills and training needed to be employed, and that Tertiary funding cuts will only create more barriers to attain these attributes.

“Want to get people in to work? This [ data on workplace participation versus. educational attainment] proves what sensible people know already- its all about education, skills and training,” says Mr Koukoulas.

More details regarding the time of the protests have yet to be released by organisers online.