“There’s nothing smart about the Government’s plan to cut university funding in next week’s Federal Budget,” Mr Wilkie said.

“Australian universities are already underfunded by about $1bn a year and the Government’s efficiency dividend will just go and make the situation a whole lot worse.

“Moreover the decision to significantly reduce the HECS-HELP threshold from $55,000 to $42,000 puts it just above the minimum wage and will be an unreasonable burden on students. The reduced threshold will also be a disincentive to some people attending university in the first place.

“Yes universities cost a lot of money. But they are one of the most important building blocks of a modern knowledge economy and should be a priority for funding.

“This Government, like the Abbott Government, has its priorities totally out of whack. At the same time it’s cutting uni funding it’s determined to give a tax cut to big business and loan almost a billion dollars to help out a foreign company to build Australia’s biggest coal mine.”

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