Education Minister Christopher Pyne has also hinted that the country would benefit from more private universities, where students and their families can pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for an education.
“I support the deregulation and the entrance of competition into the higher education market because that ensures quality being offered to students,” said Mr. Pyne.
In the US where private universities and colleges are common, students at Middlebury College in Vermont pay almost $60,000 a year for tuition.
The average student contribution at the University of Melbourne ranges from $6,000 to more than $10,000 a year.
Paying more is a concern for many, including University of New South Wales student Morgan Roche.
“The thought of accumulating more debt than I’m already doing, in my late 20’s with a family to support is incomprehensible,” she said.
The landscape was a lot different when Prime Minister Tony Abbott was student at Sydney University during the mid 1970’s, especially when it came to university fees.
In 1974, then Prime Minister Gough Whitlam abolished university fees. That was good news for Mr. Abbott who began his Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Economics degrees just two years later.
By the time the Education Minister studied law at the University of Adelaide in the1980’s, students from all disciplines were required to pay $2,300 a year under the newly created Higher Education Contribution Scheme or HECS.
“I paid the higher education contribution scheme, I’m very happy to do so because I got a fantastic education and I paid it back through my income once I started earning money,” said Mr. Pyne speaking on ABC last week.
But Mr. Pyne’s office did not respond to requests when we asked how much the education minister paid.
The office for the Shadow Education Minister Kate Ellis told us they didn’t know how much she paid in fees to study international relations at Flinders University in the late 90’s, or how they would find it.
But SBS found that a humanities degree at the time cost students about $3,400 each year.
While the federal government says students need to bear more of the costs of their education, some including Morgan Roche, worry that making a university education more expensive will make it less accessible.