Western Sydney rejects university changes

Picture: Rob Homer

Picture: Rob Homer

More than two thirds of people in the Parramatta and Banks electorates oppose an increase to university fees.

Independent polling commissioned by the National Tertiary Education Union also showed 64 per cent of the 2000 people surveyed in the two western Sydney electorates were opposed to the federal government’s public funding cuts to universities.

The poll recorded a 5 per cent swing against the Coalition in Parramatta and an 11 per cent swing against the Coalition in the seat of Banks.

NTEU western Sydney branch president, Jan Falloon, said the figures were a clear rejection of the government’s changes to higher education.

She said more than 17,800 students who live in the Parramatta electorate —which extends from Carlingford in the east to Old Toongabbie and South Wentworthville in the west — would see funding to their university cut by 20 per cent, start-up scholarships slashed, and the prospect of bigger debts.

“Families in western Sydney don’t want to see their kids locked out of a university education or saddled with enormous debts well into adulthood,” she said.

“Both Christopher Pyne and Tony Abbott promised no changes to higher education funding arrangements prior to the election, yet we are now presented with the most dramatic changes in over a generation.

“Those of the 64,900 graduates living in these electorates that still have HECS or HELP debt will be paying higher interest on those debts, further eating at family budgets.’’

The poll showed an average net approval rating of -24 for Tony Abbott across the electorates of Parramatta and Banks.

An average of 70 per cent of people in Banks and Parramatta opposed increased student fees.

“People living in western Sydney clearly think a degree shouldn’t cost a mortgage,’’ Ms Falloon said.

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