Higher education reforms could spell disaster for vets: AVA

Beef Central, 29/09/2014

Vet students in the future could be facing unsustainably high levels of debt under the government’s higher education reforms currently under scrutiny by a Senate committee.

“Even with the proposed compromise to reduce the impact of raising the interest rate, vet students are likely to take around 30 years to pay off their debt. And the total repayments will be well over $200,000,” said Australian Veterinary Association president, Dr Julia Nicholls.

“This is an unsustainable level of debt for members of a profession with an average total income of $77,000 (according to ATO data). How will they be able to repay such a debt earning about half the income of those with similarly costly courses such as doctors and dentists?

“And what effect will these changes have on our profession and the essential services we provide to the economy and the community?”

“Veterinarians are essential to agricultural industries, biosecurity, public health and food safety,” she said.

The AVA has examined the possible effects of the reforms this week in its submission to the Senate inquiry into the bill.

“The AVA will continue to voice its opposition to the reforms, and making the case for limiting the unintended consequences of these reforms on the veterinary profession.

“We believe that student numbers need to be limited as they are for medical degrees, and for fees to be affordable to students,” Dr Nicholls said.

“We will be engaging directly with the seven universities that offer veterinary science degrees as well as continuing our efforts to raise awareness of these unintended consequences,” she said.

Seven universities offer veterinary science courses in Australia – Charles Sturt University, James Cook University, Murdoch University, University of Adelaide, University of Melbourne, University of Queensland and University of Sydney.



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