Student finance support 'should not turn into welfare'

Australia's student loan system needs reforming if the government is to prevent "professional students" from sponging off the state, it has been argued.

An editorial by the Daily Telegraph notes that while various reforms, many of which commenced under the Hawke government, have been successful in stopping such professional students from cynically prolonging their education, there remain plenty of hold-outs who are able to compare student finances after securing taxpayer cash.

"Now we have evidence that a hard core of lecture-addicted deadbeats continue to hold out, denying university places to students who actually want to graduate and do something worthwhile with their lives," it said.

The evidence it refers to emerged in reports earlier this week of professional students accruing massive HECS debts of an average between $175,805 and $264,677, while Australia's most expensive university student was revealed to have notched up a huge $384,957 debt.

Commenting on the issue, the newspaper criticised the Gillard government's plan to abolish the seven-year cap on loans-funded university study, suggesting this could be a ploy to shore up Labor support within the tertiary sector.

"Either way, it's a backwards step," it said. "Universities are for learning, not for welfare. A class isn't a creche."

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