Free university education plan considered

The federal government is considering a Greens proposal to reintroduce free university education for all Australian students.

An estimate of how much the plan would cost taxpayers has been included in a new post-election brief to the Gillard government by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, known as the Red Book.

The brief, which was obtained by The Australian newspaper, estimates that the move would cost $15.4 billion in its first year and about $2.5 billion annually in subsequent years.

In pushing for the proposal, the Greens have argued that all Australian students and refugees have a right to a free education.

Under the plan, which calls for the abolition of fees at all universities and for the government to forgive existing HECS debts, young Australians might have more options and fewer obligations when they come to compare student banking.

However, the Australian observed that the brief does not comment on the desirability of the Greens' proposals, though the government will be required to consider them carefully given that it relies upon the minor party for support in parliament.

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