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Australia: New reform package confronts budget pressures, raises study fees and university accountability

The Australian Department of Education and Training has released a reform package that introduces measures to rebalance funding between students and taxpayers. The proposed reforms seek to reach finical sustainability by confronting Budget pressures relating to tax payer subsidised study places in the national loan system (HELP) and by enhancing accountability of public funding received by institutions. 

The reform package, that according to the government establishes a  ‘fairer deal’, estimates to save AUD 2.8 billion (approximately EUR 1.8 billion) along three action-lines:

Improving sustainability of higher education
  • Student contributions to studies will be raised in 2018 by 1.8% annually, over a three year period. This results in an overall increase for students of 7.5% and rebalances the share of contributions for students at 58% and taxpayers at 54%.
  • Lower loan repayment thresholds will be set from July 2018, meaning that a proportion of HELP beneficiaries will start repayment sooner (payback starts at AUD 42 000/approximately EUR 28 000 annual income)
  • Students with permanent residency status are no longer eligible to benefit from a Common Wealth Supported study place (CSP), which does not require repayment, and will now be supported through income contingent loans.
Increased transparency and accountability
  • A performance based system for institutional funding will be introduced in 2018.  7.5% of the total budget provided by government to subsidise tuition costs of undergraduate students (CGS) is reserved for this.
  • The Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency (TEQSA) will receive 2.3 million over four years to engage stakeholders towards a joint plan of improving transparency in admissions.
  • A more transparent system for reporting teaching and research cost will be developed, and a review of the Australian qualifications Framework is expected to be completed by end 2018.
More choice for students