Allan Reinikka

Forget glass ceiling, university debt may hold women back

WOMEN could be paying off university loans for their entire working lives if changes are passed through Federal Parliament, according to a university researcher.

The Federal Government's higher education reforms cleared through the lower house at Canberra today and will now be passed to the Senate.

Under the bill, the Government has proposed to make changes to deregulate student fees and raise interest rates on student loans.

If passed, it is feared students will be forced to pay more for their degrees and take longer to pay off student loans.

A report from the Melbourne Institute at the University of Melbourne found that if the reforms were passed through, the time it could take students to repay loans could double.

Lead researcher Associate Professor Chris Ryan said under the Government's proposed funding model time to pay off loans would soar; from 12 to 26 years for women and eight to 15 years for men.

"If a large proportion of women cannot repay their loans over their working lives, the entire loan scheme may be put in jeopardy in the future," Mr Ryan said.

The bill is likely to be debated in the Senate next month.


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