It’s just not fair

Mrs Spartacus is a wonderful woman and a wonderful mother to the Spartacii, and Spartacus loves her dearly.  But Mrs Spartacus insists on listening to ABC radio in the morning which forces Spartacus to listen to the dynamic lifter duo, Wendy Harmer and Robbie Buck.

This morning, in one of their standard and predictable demands for a bigger government and more taxes on other people’s money, Harmer complained about the impact of HECS-HELP on young people.  In particular, the lowered threshold for the commencement of repayment.

In some respects, Spartacus shares the concern of Harmer about the sizable liability many young people start their working lives with.  But unlike Harmer, Spartacus is more interested in the steak than the sizzle.

Spartacus is less concerned with the financing costs of higher education and more concerted with the actual delivery costs of higher education.  To wit, let us have a conversation about the cost structure and efficiency of the tertiary education system before the conversation about how to pay for it.

Given the currently low (for the time being) interest rates, if there was a genuine desire to reduce the education debt on student, one might imagine that there is more bang in focusing on the principal rather than the interest.  But to do that would require an honest conversation about the cost structures of Australian universities.  No necessarily about the cost of academics, or at least some academics, but rather the cost of the University Administrative State.

Here is a Sparta-post from 2016 about the numbers of administrators within Sydney Uni.

The one thing I was amazed by was the number of administrators who out numbered academics every single year .  The ratio of administrators to academics was as high as 1.30 (2009) and low as 1.19 (2015).

Interesting also is that the number of academics per student has been rising every year, as has the number of administrators.  In 2015, there were 17.1 students per academic and 14.4 students per administrator (thanks also to Uh oh and Blagger for the spot).  So much for productivity.

Spartacus is aware that Harmer is a public servant, but in the private sector, the sector that actually generates the wealth to pay of the public sector, the only way to reduce the cost of products and services to customers is to innovate and to become more efficient.  Not to go to the Government and demand subsidies.  Perhaps also there should be fewer of these:

Media & Public Relations Adviser

  • Opportunity to be an integral part of the media and public relations development and implementation strategies
  • Located at Camperdown/Darlington Campus
  • Full-time continuing appointment, minimum base salary of $103K plus 17% super

Media and Government Relations

About the opportunity 

The Media and Public Relations Adviser (Engineering and IT) position develops and implements proactive media and public relations strategies that support faculty initiatives and strategies and identifies faculty achievements and research stories for media placement in order to increase the University’s media profile and to enhance the University’s brand positioning.


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36 Responses to It’s just not fair

  1. OldOzzie

    Student loan cap makes sense The Australia 12:00AM June 27, 201

    One indefatigable student in NSW has run up $536,000 in government-backed tuition debt — enough to buy an apartment, as we reported yesterday. More than 14,000 people have student HELP debts of more than $100,000. And during the past four years, unpaid education debt has risen from $25 billion to $54bn. About 23 per cent of these student borrowers never repay their loans. (Repayments do not kick in until a certain income threshold is reached.)

    Hence the government plan to put a lifetime cap on an individual student’s HELP debt, the key loan program in need of tighter control being the HECS-HELP scheme available to those enrolled at public universities.

    Some of the troubling blowout in HELP debt is the legacy of the VET FEE-HELP debacle, in which hapless students ran up large debts with dodgy training colleges for dubious, often unfinished qualifications. More than $2bn of this debt may have to be written off by the government. But the other reason for the borrowing boom is the so-called “demand-driven” system, which began informally in 2010 and ultimately allowed public universities to enrol unlimited numbers of sometimes poorly qualified students. This group of riskier prospects is likely to result in yet more bad debt.

    The bill before the Senate would limit debt for each student to $104,440, with a higher debt level of $150,000 for those studying medicine, dentistry and veterinary science courses. This seems about the right level to discourage students who binge on university education, while accommodating those who make a false start in one degree before embarking on a second, as well as those who make a midlife career change.

    The principle of a cap is sound. It is the taxpayer who picks up the tab for unrecoverable debt and pays the implicit interest rate subsidy in HELP loans. And it is still true that, on average, public university students come from better-off backgrounds than the general population. For this reason it is regressive for Labor and the Greens to oppose a general HELP cap. Students in full-fee private higher education already have one. The fairest course is to apply borrowing caps, and loan fees while we’re at it, uniformly across all forms of HELP debt.

  2. Warty

    Trivial indeed, but if Spartacus is Spartacus, then his beloved wife would be Spartaca and only the male imps would be referred to as Spartacii. No gender fluidity amongst the Romans of the early republic.

  3. hzhousewife

    IMHO, a lot of students don’t see HECS as something they have to pay back, they don’t realize they are borrowing at all. In practical terms it just feels like they are getting the dole, just like all their pals who aren’t working. It’s just that they have somewhere to go most days and meet up with their friends, and shoot the breeze.

  4. Myrddin Seren

    Mrs Spartacus is a wonderful woman and a wonderful mother to the Spartacii, and Spartacus loves her dearly. But Mrs Spartacus insists on listening to ABC radio in the morning…

    So many nice, middleclass people – who could be usefully politically engaged, start a conversation on media with

    ‘We ONLY ever listen to/watch the ABC, and read ( insert local Fewfacts rag ).’

    And you wonder why the country is engaged in a massive march to the Left.

    I have no answer – I would say the Cat stands like Rourke’s Drift in this cultural realignment, except that analogy is of course now totally racist and must be banned.

    You can have my DVD of ‘Zulu’ when you can prise it from my cold, dead hands *

    *classical analogy pace Ed Driscoll

  5. H B Bear

    If you don’t employ $100k+ Media and Public Relations advisers what do you do with all the dumbos who did a journalism degree? Gotta produce more glossy brochures to sign up more journalism students to keep the uni sausage machine chugging along.

  6. H B Bear

    Is HECS debt still written off on death? That would seem to be some low hanging fruit to start with – although if you are carrying HECS debt you probably don’t have a lot of assets behind you.

  7. EJ>

    What’s not fair is Students are required to pay & do “electives” during studies that have absolutely nothing to do with their intended goals. So… racked up debt in the thousands for useless “requirement” by the University& the course structures. SCAM!

  8. What’s not fair is Students are required to pay & do “electives” during studies that have absolutely nothing to do with their intended goals

    Fair point, but there are many products/services that bundle items that customers might not buy as stand alone. But irrespective, that’s what competition and innovation deal with. But we can’t have such things in Australia. How else can the government justify the levels of taxation.

  9. Diogenes

    That would seem to be some low hanging fruit to start with – although if you are carrying HECS debt you probably don’t have a lot of assets behind you.

    And I can see Shane or Sharon sobbing on A Current Affair , that the mother/father of their 6 children died of cancer/car accident owing 20k and that they were losing their house. – How could you put an unsecured debt incurred by one person onto another ?

    Mind you a lot of very very very mature, from experience, mostly females , might think twice

  10. Old School Conservative

    A sensible government would say “a uni degree helps you get good employment. Hence, there is to be no repayment threshold. You start repayments as soon as you finish your degree.”

  11. Compare that to the US student loan debt:

    The most recent reports indicate there is:

    $1.48 trillion in total U.S. student loan debt
    44.2 million Americans with student loan debt
    Student loan delinquency rate of 11.2% (90+ days delinquent or in default)
    Average monthly student loan payment (for borrower aged 20 to 30 years): $351
    Median monthly student loan payment (for borrower aged 20 to 30 years): $203

  12. Compare this to the US student loan debt: ~US$1.5 trillion

  13. Myrddin Seren

    A sensible government would say “a uni degree helps you get good employment.

    A sensible government might qualify that by saying

    – it MIGHT help you get a job requiring tertiary qualifications, with potential earnings advantages. But it is not for everyone. And you need to consider supply and demand for graduates in your area of interest.

    But we are in Australia – so no chance of the university ponzi not rolling on.

  14. Bruce in WA

    My wife’s niece in the USA (Doctorate in Psychology!) had a party recently when her student loan debt hit $250 000USD

  15. Bruce of Newcastle

    Of course the students could get a well paid job, in a Department of Western Civilization say.

    Hey I heard that a private bequest might pay for such a university department, so it wouldn’t even be a drain of taxpayers! Unlike Ms Harmer and Mr Buck.

  16. Gerard

    Let’s focus on the many useless qualifications on offer. Meanwhile we are short of tradesmen chefs haurdressers etc.

  17. Barry

    I drive past two campuses of Monash University every day.

    The building work at both campuses has been continuous for the past 5 years. They are constructing expensive memorials to the public money wasted, with no long term benefit to the long suffering taxpayer.

    I assume that the hidden agenda is transfer of taxpayer dollars to construction union members via the contracts let.

  18. Buccaneer

    Frankly, we should all be more concerned about the plight of poor Billy S, who’s played his politics so poorly it’s now been reported that the current PM donates the equivalent of his whole salary to charity. Poor Billy doesn’t have a rich family/benefactor/ earned portfolio, so he really needs that money. Now the electorate can fairly ask him should he be elected, why he’s not contributing to fairness and esqualidy. You know, the stuff that his mentor Julia talked about. He believes “What she said” doesn’t he?

  19. EJ

    @Buccaneer…and he better change his tune about small business pronto if he wants to succeed in this new electorate!

  20. Habib

    Another sector in need of secateurs. Privatise the admin, pay academics only on performance (so they’d also owe substantial debt) and flog off rafts of real estate. Went over to Kelvin Grove last week to pick up a phone, and was astounded at how QIT (the U is an affectation) has metatarsised throughout the suburb, with extravagant structures everywhere, and more coming. I reckon they’re growing faster than government, who make a malignant melanoma look like a piker.

  21. C.L.

    Wendy Hamer is still alive?

  22. B Grantham

    I read the other day that an overseas university (I think Manchester but cannot be sure) has 100 staff in their Diversity Department. If we assume a modest $75,000 per annum total employer cost per diversity staff member this equates to $750 per annum per student across a student population of 10,000.

  23. Habib

    Well animated. I’d hold a mirror up to her deformed gob and see if there’s any frost.

    Actually there’s a new name for the ABC- the National Nosferatu.

  24. Roger

    Spartacus is aware that Harmer is a public servant…

    Minor quibble….she’s not a public servant but an employee of a statutory corporation.

    If she was a public servant she’d no doubt be paid less and be easier to sack….in theory, anyway.

  25. Habib

    WTF is there any need for a diversity department in an organisation with zero diversity of opinion?

    And a University of Manchester is like an Institute of Aboriginal Physics.

  26. Percy Popinjay

    I didn’t realise Robbie Buck had finally hit the ripe ol’ age of 60.

  27. Habib

    So the turgid twat was older than me when he was infesting the yoof network with his inane gibberish.

    Colour me surprised.

  28. Dogster

    MS (10.47am) Rorke’s Drift……..Dick….

    “Surgeon Reynolds, in the post hospital, was having a difficult time tending to the wounded while shots flew through the windows. With Reynolds was Dick.

    The Zulus eventually succeeded in setting fire to the thatched roof of the hospital building, necessitating that the sick and wounded be moved into the open. Surgeon John Reynolds fearlessly continued attending to his patients. Always by his side was Dick, quite unmoved by the hail of shots and spears falling about him. The only time he left his master was to nip at the shins of an overbold Zulu.

    The siege kept up until 4 am. the next day, when the Zulus retreated, leaving hundreds of their dead in the vicinity of the post. Surgeon Reynolds, among others was awarded the Victoria Cross and, specially Mentioned in the Dispatch for “his constant attention to the wounded under fire where they fell,” was Dick. All who were present paid tribute to the little dog who stuck by his master’s side through the whole ordeal.

    I had one just like him!

  29. Anyone wanting to know about the education and work problems in the US should Google Mike Rowe and see what he’s not only saying, but doing, in order to try and get people at all levels to see some sense.

  30. Percy Popinjay

    Habib – he’d be in his 50s at least, I was just making a sly reference to the age at which the “yoof network” finally draws the line. Dickhead Shitsville will be next, hopefully.

  31. Ƶĩppʯ (ȊꞪꞨV)

    Full-time continuing appointment, minimum base salary of $103K plus 17% super

    can you say self-serving beaurocrats

  32. Habib

    Are there any yoof involved at any stage in JJJ’s existence, from production to product to audience? Seems to cater on supply and demand to the superannuated smug, and the atonally ancient.

  33. Genghis

    I have always thought that the Education area (Primary, Secondary & Tertiary) are ripe for video lecturing thus removing half these teat suckers.

  34. Squirrel

    Another reminder that one of the most irresponsible decisions of the Rudd-Gillard era was the uncapping of Commonwealth funded tertiary places – more credentialism, more false hopes and unrealistic expectations, more debt and yet we still seem to need a mass immigration program because of “skills shortages”.

  35. Shy Ted

    Is Robbie Buck his real name or is that just how Wendy pronounces it?

  36. Jimf

    The vacuuming up of kids not cut out for tertiary education under Gillard’s “equality” manifesto will be felt for many years. Too many dunces doing nothing degrees who have cost us a fortune and weighed themselves down with debt in the process.
    A massive shortage of trade skilled kids between 18-28 now leading to bubble tradie prices in cities.
    Also a supercharged bloating of lazy,entitled academics (and worst of all associated support staff) spongers in the tertiary sector.On and on it goes…
    I’m a country boy from a govt school and certainly no snob, but university was meant to be for kids that have the nous to make a productive career from their 3-5 years of study. We now have low entry standards, courses with no clear job pathways , and high drop out rates.These are wasted years for kids who’ve been conned.
    This obsession for tertiary degree status (also fuelled by dopey parents who want to bask in some false sense of achievement from their sprogs going to Uni) is creating a generation of disappointed “media studies” graduates . Oh well, we’ll have gold plated baristas at least . We are truly a complacent , pampered and stupid country.

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