Higher education reforms set to hit Senate

REFORMS to higher education proposed by the Abbott government could come before a hostile Senate reception as early as this Thursday.

The reforms, introduced to parliament by Education Minister Christopher Pyne last week, will deregulate university fees in a bid to make students pay an extra 10% of fee costs.

Backed by several business leaders including the architect of Labor's education reforms, David Gonski, the changes proposed were the subject of widespread protests at universities earlier this year.

While Labor, Palmer United Party and The Greens have promised to reject the bills, Labor's education spokesman Kim Carr on Tuesday proposed a negotiation.

Senator Carr said some measures in the bill, including making the Higher Education Loan Program available to New Zealand students, should be moved in separate legislation, which Labor would back.

PUP leader Clive Palmer and Tasmanian Senator Jacquie Lambie however have been vocal in opposing the entire package, and without their votes the bills would struggle to pass the Senate.

Despite bringing the bills up for debate in the House this week, Mr Pyne today staying mum on any negotiations.

He said last week the start date of the reforms - January 2016 - could allow for more debate and negotiations, despite wide opposition from the other political parties.



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