Flat White

Axe HECS-HELP for failing students? Why not? Universities are supposed to be about learning

14 August 2020

12:57 PM

14 August 2020

12:57 PM

Yesterday, Dan Tehan announced a Federal Government plan for first-year university students to lose government funding if they fail more than 50% of their units.  

Sounds fair enough, right?  

If I have to work my bollocks off to pay tax to fund their education, they can at least put in the effort to pass half their courses.  

It’s called having skin in the game: that sweet place where actions have consequences. I mean, it’s easy to not turn up and not try if some other lackey is picking up the tab.  

No loss, no biggy.  

Predictably, there was the usual chorus of outrage from the left. Apparently, the government is snuffing out the careers of our best and brightest and that kids from disadvantaged families will be hardest hit. Let me give you a hot tip: our best and brightest are not flunking more than half their first-year units and kids from disadvantaged families are either not going to university, or if they are, they’re are doing their darndest to get through. In my experience, it was the indulged Golden Triangle types — that’s the kids from the area of prime real estate bound by Dalkeith, Claremont and Cottesloe for you Easterners — who failed their first year because it was easier to go work for daddy or take a parent funded gap year than immerse yourself in the academic rigour. 

Also, I am quite sure there will be, and I advocate for, hardship exemptions. And when I say hardship – I mean actual hardship I don’t mean ‘my dog ate my internet connection’ or ‘I haven’t found myself yet’ or ‘I’m too busy refining my socialist tendencies to rock up to class’. We all go through rough patches, and the government should make allowances for that. 

Then yesterday evening on Paul Murry Live, socialist flag-waver Linda Scott said that kids were more likely to fail their first year if their parents didn’t go to university 

Sorry, what?  Could she be more elitist if she tried? 

Miraculously, I have a masters degree despite my apparently unfortunate upbringing: neither of my parents did their matriculation and both learned English as their second language. Additionally, my grandparents had very limited education and literacy.  

But I am one of many who came from migrant or working-class families who achieved. And we achieved because we were expected to. So we just did it. Trust me, Wogs believe in education, they just don’t believe in wasting four years at university to graduate with some bullshit degree which you can’t use to earn a proper living 

We should never underestimate the value of failure to learning lessons and building character. The best way to bloom is to rendezvous with responsibility. And if that means forking out for your own degree then it’s more likely you’ll actually study something worthwhile and secure yourself a decent job at the end of it.  

So, go easy on the hand wringing, we are just asking them to apply themselves and pass – we aren’t asking them to split the atom. 

Caroline Di Russo is a lawyer, businesswomen and unrepentant nerd.


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