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The best investment in the knowledge economy

The best investment in the knowledge economy is free education.

Liz Gordon MP Wed Aug 18 1999

Liz Gordon
MP The Alliance said the best way to invest in the knowledge economy is to make tertiary education free rather than to patch up the user pays system which turns people away from studying science and technology.

'Another costly review is not needed to tell us that the best way to invest in the knowledge economy is to remove barriers to learning and make tertiary education free,' Alliance Education spokesperson Dr Liz Gordon said.

'All the signals the government sends to students though it's userpays education system discourage students from taking science and technology courses. The scholarships for postgraduate students will not change this pattern if potential science undergraduate students cannot afford a science career.

'Average fees for commerce students this year are between $2,650 and $3,500 whereas science fees this year range between $3,120 and $3,900 between 11 and 18% higher.

'At the same time graduate starting salaries for commerce students were between $40,000 and $48,000. Science students only earnt between $28,500 and $38,000, 21 to 29% lower.

'For young people deciding to do a degree and wanting to pay off a student loan of at least $20,000 the choice of a science degree over a commerce degree is a brave one.

'The student loans scheme is now in its eighth year. 250,000 students owe $3 billion. Many of these students are leaving the country with huge loans never to return, not just because they can avoid their debt but because they can earn much more overseas.

'This government has given away tax cuts worth $2,500 million per year. Free education would cost about $500 million a year. Free education would cost a fifth of the cost of the tax cuts. These figures clearly show that this government's priorities are not in developing the knowledge economy.

'The Alliance's partnership 2000 plan to invest in science research and technology far surpasses the government 5 point reelection plan. In conjunction with the Alliance tertiary education policy to be announced shortly we are investing in the knowledge economy where it really counts,' Alliance Education spokesperson Liz Gordon said.

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