There is a fair amount of debate going on around changes to University fee structures at the moment, including the application of an interest rate to the debt racked up through the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP). During Senate Question Time last week, the Greens Higher Education spokeswoman Lee Rhiannon posed an interesting question to Minister for Human Services Marise Payne, asking whether the plan to charge interest up to 6 per cent on existing debts as well as new ones constituted a broken contract.
The ABC put it through their fact checker and came out with a result of ‘debatable’.
It made me wonder though – would I have so easily taken on HELP debt if I was aware at the time of an interest charge? In asking that I am not necessarily against it (although 6 per cent is steep and I worry that this may put those in lower socio economic backgrounds off higher education), but am concerned that they can make this change ‘just like that’.
What do you think? Is it a breach of contract, or just of faith? Or, indeed simply a sign of the times where all must pay their way?