The Australian Medical Students' Association (AMSA) today slammed the sky-rocketing prices of full-fee medical degrees. The recently released Good Universities Guide 2008 has detailed the escalating costs, which include $242,000 for medicine at Bond University and $237,000 for a combined medicine/arts degree at the University of New South Wales.
With the cap on the number of full-fee university places removed as part of the federal Government's budget in May, more and more students across the country will be faced with the prospect of severe financial hardship.
While students studying full-fee medicine are eligible for a $100,000 Fee-HELP loan to cover part of their costs, the scheme includes an additional 20% administrative fee. The total amount, including the fee, is indexed according to the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
Many students fail to understand why full-fee undergraduates are faced with the 20% loading fee, while post-graduate students are exempt.
"The Fee-HELP system is wrought with inequality. Adding on a 'loading fee' for administrative purposes, and then indexing the total for CPI, is interpreted by some as governmental revenue raising.
"It certainly stands to exacerbate the burden of debt facing students," said Mr. Mitchell.
AMSA calls on the government for a reduction in the Fee-HELP loading fee, and a reinstatement of the 25% cap on full-fee university places.
"Full-fee graduates will help alleviate the medical workforce shortage. But in the face of escalating fees, they need all the support they can get. We have to minimise the debt burden wherever possible.
"I am not certain graduates of $200,000-plus medical degrees will be so inclined to work in General Practice and in areas of workforce need - where Australia desperately needs doctors."