Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

Fine-tuning required for Rudd’s HECS cuts

Posted by Dave Bath on 2007-11-15

Finally, Rudd’s official campaign launch, concentrating on useful investment in knowledge, offers some difference between candidate governments.  I’m still annoyed by the pocket-stuffing policies which will only increase total costs of knowledge, but at least some measures were welcome.  I hope to see them fine-tuned according as discussed further down this note.

Increasing the scholarships available for postgrads and senior researchers is welcome.

But what made me most pleased was that HECS fees for science/maths students will be halved, and halved again if they become teachers.

I wouldn’t call this brilliant, as it is a long-overdue no-brainer.

I assume that these HECS cuts will do the following, and if not, they desperately need refinement:

  • The idea of "science/maths" should include engineering.
  • The "teaching" should only include teachers in state, not private, schools.
  • The "teaching" should also apply to university maths/science/enginerring tutors and lecturers.
  • However, not having read the details, I’d like to see the following refinements, perhaps down the track:

  • HECS fees are not automatically halved in one hit when a person becomes a teacher, but decreased for every year of a teaching career (perhaps 10% a year). 
  • Nursing, medicine and allied professions (they are scientific after all) should also be eligible for a 10% cut for every year solely employed by the state (whether in hospitals, council clinics, home nursing programs, etc).
  • While not necessarily getting the immediate cut on HECS during study, other disciplines, including economics, sociology and the arts, should receive a pro-rata cut for every year employed as teachers.
  • A lesser annual pro-rata cut should be given to those employed by the public service.
  • An annual extra HECS cut should be available if the graduate becomes indentured to the state, and able to be sent where needed, probably to provincial and rural areas.  Non-provincial rural areas probably deserve a better reward than provincial areas.

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