CHARLES Sturt University has expressed concerns that the $2.2 billion budget cut announced earlier this week will disproportionately affect regional students.
The federal government announced a freeze on university funding until 2020 on Tuesday, as well as lowering the HECS repayment threshold from $52,000 to $45,000.
Deputy vice-chancellor academic, professor Toni Downes, said both changes would have an effect on both existing and aspiring students from across the Border.
“We’re concerned about the impact, not just on the possibility of it dissuading potential students for applying any university, but also for existing students and graduates,” she said.
“They entered the system under one set of rules, and will now find themselves repaying even though they have a mortgage and a part-time job.
“(The figure of) $45,000 is a very low threshold, we have a lot of students from the Albury campus going into what I would call traditionally female occupations like nursing, social welfare and education, that we all know are lowly-paid.”
Education minister Simon Birmingham defended the changes earlier this week, suggesting universities could absorb the changes by spending less on advertising and marketing.
Senator Birmingham also said it would be ‘a disgrace’ if places for regional students were cut.
Professor Downes disagreed, saying the funding freeze meant the university could face tough choices about how many places to offer for certain courses.
"CSU has 11 locations across regional NSW and Victoria, can we afford those locations?” she said.