On May 9, the government will announce how they’ll be spending our tax money over the coming year (aka the federal budget 2k17). We don’t know exactly how it will unfold yet, but Fairfax has reported that unis are about to lose hundreds of millions of dollars in funding. This means that student fees will rise and graduates will have to pay their loans back sooner.

Basically, it’s going to be rough for:

  • Anyone who’s at uni.
  • Anyone who might want to go to uni in the future.
  • Anyone who’s been to uni and has a HECS-HELP debt.
  • Anyone who works at a uni or may want to work at a uni later on in life.

So wait, how will this affect me? 

It means that the government will pay less for education and students will pay more. If you’re a current or future student, you’re going to be facing higher student fees. The numbers aren’t exactly clear yet but The Australian has reported that fees could rise by “a minimum of 25%.”

This will put extra pressure on students, especially those who are facing financial hardship and it may even force some to drop out. Dr Ian Li, a researcher from the University of Western Australia told The Australian: “Our research shows that the primary reason disadvantaged students consider dropping out of university is financial. Fee increases could exacerbate that further.”

If you have a HECS-HELP debt (or if you’re accruing one through your degree), then you’ll probably know that you don’t have to start paying it back until you start earning more than $54,869. That figure will likely be lowered, meaning that you’ll have to pay your debt back sooner, though it’s still unclear if this will affect everyone with a HECS-HELP debt or just future students.

It may also result in job cuts within the university sector.

Why are they doing this?

The decision is based on a new research paper called the Deloitte Access Economics study, which assessed the costs of delivering university degrees at 17 different universities. It found that, in some cases, universities receive more funding than they spend on delivering courses. In other degrees, including dentistry and veterinary science, universities spend more on teaching than they receive.

There’s also the fact that universities allocate part of their funding to other running costs, such as academic research, training and renovations. But the government currently has a budget deficit of $37.1 billion and are looking to save cash wherever they can, even in education.

So what happens next?

Well, vice chancellors from the major universities have been summoned to Canberra as of Monday for a briefing. No doubt they’ll oppose the budget cuts and students will likely take to the streets in protest. The exact numbers will be announced in coming days, when the government releases the higher education reform package and then the full budget on May 9. Watch this space.