30/11/2015 - 16:50

Nation’s young more worried about future

30/11/2015 - 16:50

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Young Australians are deeply concerned about personal debt and less-than enthused about the nation’s economic prospects, according to a survey by local organisation Student Edge.

YOUNG Australians are deeply concerned about personal debt and less-than enthused about the nation’s economic prospects, according to a survey by local organisation Student Edge.

Net positivity, which subtracts the percentage of young people who expect the economy to get worse from the percentage that expect it to get better, was -14 per cent, and even lower among women at -23 per cent.

More than a third of the survey’s 2,700 participants felt the economy would get moderately worse.

Attitudes were more negative among those aged 12-17, at -19 per cent, than those aged 18-29, at -12 per cent.

The results indicate that there is a dramatic gap in economic confidence among younger and older Australians, with recent consumer surveys across the whole population scoring well into the positive zone.

The ANZ Roy Morgan weekly consumer confidence index hit its highest level in 18 months in the weeks after Malcolm Turnbull became prime minister, and was most recently faring at +14.5.

Debt burden

People in the age group 18-29 were very cautious about taking on debt, which is unsurprising for a group that reached adulthood during the GFC.

Almost 45 per cent of people in that group were ‘somewhat’, or ‘very concerned’ about their ability to repay student debt, with just 13 per cent ‘not at all concerned’. Similarly, 63 per cent were concerned about housing affordability, which resonated particularly strongly among females of both age groups, at 61 per cent concerned.

On the flipside, 60 per cent of current university students consider themselves either ‘somewhat’ or ‘very likely’ to obtain employment in their chosen field post graduation.

Only 15 per cent considered themselves unlikely to find work in their field.

Taken together, it means young people are reasonably bullish about job prospects but deeply concerned about housing affordability, particularly if they have a large student debt.

About 60 per cent of university students were currently working, compared with 39 per cent in high school.

Reform

The survey results indicate the government’s planned reforms to tertiary education fees in their current form would find few friends if legislated, with only 3 per cent of current students ‘very likely’ to support fee deregulation.

More were ‘somewhat likely’, around 11 per cent, making the cumulative portion of students likely to support change just 14 per cent

Young people outside of university were more supportive, but only marginally so, with about 19 per cent in the 12-29 group in favour of the changes.

And 62 per cent of students would be either ‘somewhat unlikely’ or ‘very unlikely’ to support reforms.

Despite broad support from leading university representative bodies, including the Group of 8, the federal government, under the leadership of Tony Abbott, was unable to get changes through the Senate.

The reform package would’ve broadened access to Hecs for students in private and non-university tertiary institutions, while allowing universities to set their own fees.

The government mandated that at least 20 per cent of the extra revenue would be set aside for scholarships to assist disadvantaged students.

Such a strong result opposing the reforms, however, indicates that the benefits of the package were not strongly communicated.

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