The Australian Government's proposed higher education reform package remains in the Senate. The Government is currently considering options as reforming the higher education system remains a priority, both to maintain and enhance Australia's world-class higher education sector, and to ensure future funding arrangements remain sustainable, in line with the reforms announced in the 2017-18 Budget. For current information, visit the Government's reform package webpage.
Much of the funding provided by the Australian Government is directed at teaching and learning in higher education through a range of initiatives. These initiatives assist with infrastructure, student support, increasing equity and improving quality in higher education. The majority of funding is administered under the Higher Education Support Act (HESA) 2003.
Measures that are funded under HESA include:
- the Commonwealth Grant Scheme (CGS), which provides funding to higher education providers to help subsidise students' tuition costs;
- the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) arrangements which provide income contingent loans to help students meet their study costs;
- Commonwealth Scholarships, to assist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students with costs associated with higher education;
HESA also makes other grants available to higher education providers for a variety of purposes. These include:
- the Disability Support Program (DSP) provides funding to eligible higher education providers to improve access for students with disabilities;
- the Indigenous Support Program provides grants to higher education providers to assist them to meet the needs of their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students;
- the Structural Adjustment Fund, which provided funding to assist universities to operate more competitively in the demand driven funding environment;
- the Higher Education Participation and Partnership Program (HEPPP) supports universities efforts to increase participation of people who are from low socio-economic status backgrounds to attend university;
- grants to a limited number of National Institutes to support ongoing operations;
- the Promotion of Excellence in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education provides funding for initiatives to improve and recognise teaching and learning;
- the Superannuation Program provides supplementary funding to eligible higher education providers to cover certain superannuation expenses for staff;
- the Australian Maths and Science Partnerships Program (AMSPP) to improve student engagement in maths and science courses at university and schools, through innovative partnerships between universities, schools, and other relevant organisations.
Determinations are made each year confirming the grant amounts or advance amounts paid to each higher education provider in respect of grants made under HESA.
Higher education funding is indexed annually using the indexation factor for the relevant year in accordance with Part 5-6 of HESA.