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The 2017 Higher Ed Budget: what you need to know

The Australian Government has announced a number of reforms to the higher education sector which will impact both universities and students.

Amendments to the Higher Education Support Act, introduced to Parliament on 11 May 2017, aim to deliver value for money for taxpayers by increasing transparency, sustainability and support for students.

If passed, the proposed changes will cut higher education funding by approximately $2.8 billion over the next four years, and will have a significant impact on student fees and loan repayments.

What will change for universities?
What will change for students?
  • Increase in fees. Fees for students in Commonwealth Supported places will increase by 1.8% each year from 2018 to 2021, while the Government reduces their contributions by the same amount.
  • Changes to HELP debt repayments. From 1 July 2018, changes will apply to the timing and amount of repayments for new and existing HELP loans.
    • The minimum repayment salary will drop from $55,874 to $41,999
    • New loan repayment rates
    • Repayment thresholds will be indexed to the Consumer Price Index from 1 July 2019 rather than Average Weekly Earnings.
  • Loans to replace subsidies for New Zealand citizens and Australian permanent residents. Most permanent residents and NZ citizens commencing study from 1 January 2018 will no longer be able to access a subsided place, making them full fee-paying students. They will be able to access an income contingent student loan.

The amendments have been referred to the Senate Standing Committee on Education and Employment, which is expected to report in August 2017.

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