JCU stu­dent fee out­rage

Townsville Bulletin - - News - by Nathan Paull nathan. paull@ townsville­bul­letin. com. au

AN an­gry James Cook Univer­sity ve­teri­nary stu­dent is tak­ing her fight to Par­lia­ment House af­ter gov­ern­ment red tape means she will have to fork out more than $ 100,000 for her de­gree.

Sa­man­tha Parry, who still has 18 months left on her de­gree, was told this se­mes­ter by the univer­sity she is only en­ti­tled to be cov­ered by HECS for the rest of the se­mes­ter.

Ms Parry s ai d cur­rent leg­is­la­tion en­ti­tles stu­dents to seven Stu­dent Learn­ing En­ti­tle­ments ( SLE), mean­ing they can be cov­ered by HECS for seven years.

She said be­cause she com­pleted a science de­gree be­fore mov­ing into ve­teri­nary science in or­der to boost her marks, she was run­ning out of en­ti­tle­ments, mean­ing she would now have to be a full fee-pay­ing stu­dent and pay 25 per cent ex­tra on her fees or de­fer.

Ms Parry said she wanted to warn other stu­dents who may be in sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tions and would be start­ing a pe­ti­tion to abol­ish the en­ti­tle­ments, which she will hand over to Her­bert MP Ewen Jones to take to Can­berra.

‘‘ I just want to get my de­gree com­pleted so I can go out and be a fully qual­i­fied vet,’’ she said.

‘‘ This is cer­tainly tak­ing the fo­cus off my stud­ies.

‘‘ I feel that there are many stu­dents in my sit­u­a­tion who don’t know about the SLE and the con­se­quences for them fi­nan­cially as when you en­rol in uni this isn’t men­tioned.

‘‘ It is only bought to the fore­ground when your SLE is about to run out and in many cases that is too late.’’

Ms Jones said the last 18 months of her de­gree would end up cost­ing her about $ 60,000, with the cost of each re­main­ing sub­ject ris­ing from $ 6000 to $ 16,000 and also at­tract­ing 25 per cent more in­ter­est to de­fer her pay­ments, bring­ing the to­tal cost o f her e nt i r e d e g r e e t o $ 107,500.

Mr Jones said he would be happy to take up the is­sue in par­lia­ment, even try­ing to con­tact Shadow Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Christo­pher Pyne last night for ad­vice to pass on to Ms Parry.

‘‘ I think it’s ev­ery per­son’s right to protest over some­thing like that,’’ he said.

‘‘ It’s not an un­usual thing that she’s do­ing – a lot of peo­ple start off with a science de­gree to be­come doc­tors and vets.

‘‘ It’s not as if she’s wasted her time, so I’ll gladly take her pe­ti­tion.’’

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