The Federal Government has proposed to cut $2.3 billion in funding from universities to help pay for the Gonski school reforms, which the State Government is yet to sign up to.
If the legislation goes ahead, in January next year, universities will have to pay a 2 per cent efficiency dividend, saving the Government $900 million.
The 10 per cent discount on HECS loans for up-front contributions will be removed and Student Start Up Scholarships will have to be repaid as soon as a student enters the workforce.
Curtin Student Guild education vice-president Sam Cavallaro said the cuts were another blow to students who were already feeling the crunch.
‘The government shouldn’t be cutting one arm of education to give to another,’ he said. ‘They need to increase the baseline in funding to universities and commit to education.’
Mr Cavallaro said more students relied on Centrelink and had to work longer hours as they struggled to keep up with high rent costs.
He was also worried that the quality of higher education was being driven down.
‘Class sizes continue to increase,’ he said.
‘It’s becoming more and more evident that universities are being run as a business and education is just a product they are trying to sell to us.’
Mr Cavallaro said more protests were planned.
Student guilds at Curtin, UWA, Murdoch and ECU, along with organisations across the country, took part in the protest.