Committee finds reforms 'limit the right to education'

A KEY plank of the Abbott government's higher education reforms limits the international right to education, parliament's powerful human rights committee reports.

The Joint Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights reported its analysis of the government's higher education reforms earlier this week.

While Education Minister Christopher Pyne had previously signalled the 20% cut to subsidies to help people study was up for negotiation, the latest bill was still being debated this week.

The Senate is expected to vote down the latest bill, introduced in December, unless private talks with the government uncover a middle ground.

Most universities currently support the overall deregulation of fees, but lobby groups Universities Australia and the Regional Universities Network are pushing for the cut to be dropped.

The committee's report found the 20% cut was a "significant reduction" and the government had not provided enough evidence to explain the need for the cut.

"While students will not have to pay fees up front as a result of this measure, the total cost of their education would rise directly as a result of this reduction in Commonwealth subsidy," the report said.

"Accordingly, the committee considers that the measure does limit the right to education by increasing the total cost of education for students."

Several other measures in the bill were also found to limit rights to education and other established international human rights, but the committee found they were largely "justifiable".

It is understood crossbenchers are holding talks with the government this week on the latest bill.

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