Cost of the Valley’s education

A Labor senator has spoken out against the controversial university deregulation plan, saying it would affect the Latrobe Valley’s already struggling education system.

Labor’s higher education spokesman, Senator Kim Carr, visited the Valley this week and said the Federal Government’s planned changes to the education system would be detrimental to the community.

“The changes in the education system where the government has pursued deregulation of the university system (are of great concern),” Mr Carr said.

“You don’t need the $100,000 degrees and in a region such as Gippsland this is a particularly serious problem.

“We’ve put out policies that are quiet contrary to that… we make it clear you don’t need to do that.”

Mr Carr said above average unemployment rates, along with below average education meant the Latrobe Valley could not afford to have the education system decline.

“People simply don’t have the money to let the universities charge whatever they like and they certainly can’t afford to see the university system decline in quality as people try to fill the classrooms without impacting the quality of the education provided,” he said.

Mr Carr said the vocational education system and the decline in TAFEs “which had suffered as a result of budget cuts” were also of concern.

Labor candidate for McMillan Chris Buckingham joined Mr Carr on his visit across the Valley on Monday, which he said was about listening and learning and “understanding what the challenges and opportunities are for the region and then formulating an approach that will resonate with the community”.

“Latrobe Valley and Gippsland have been through a series of challenges over a number of years,” Mr Buckingham said.

“We’ve seen people coming as white knights promising the world and delivering nothing and the Labor approach is exactly as Kim described – it’s about jobs, it’s about education, it’s about the opportunity for building skills and building capacity.”

Education and Training Minister Simon Birmingham did not respond to comments left by The Express at time of going to print.

However, in a speech delivered to the Times Higher Education Conference last week he announced higher education funding arrangements for 2016 would not be changed from currently legislated arrangements while the government consults further on reforms for the future.

“Any future reforms, should they be legislated, would not commence until 2017 at the earliest,” Mr Birmingham said during the speech.