Higher Education Loan Program
The Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) provides financial support to tertiary students through income contingent loans. The 2019-20 Federal budget included three HELP measures. Subject to the passage of legislation, these will:
- remit the HELP debt for teachers who teach for a minimum of four years in very remote schools
- increase the HELP loan limit to $150,000 for students studying aviation courses under VET Student Loan arrangements to address concerns about a skills shortage in the aviation sector
- delay the introduction of the annual charge and application fee for HECS-HELP and FEE-HELP by 12 months.
Extending the Unique Student Identifier to higher education
The Australian Government will invest $15.8 million over the next four years to extend the Unique Student Identifier (USI) to higher education students.
The USI is a reference number that all students undertaking nationally recognised training need to have. It creates a secure online record of students' training and qualifications gained in Australia. By extending the USI from VET to higher education, the Government will better understand how people use post-secondary school, including pathways between VET and higher education. This will help inform future policy development and program delivery through new evidence-based data.
From 2021 all domestic and onshore international higher education students will receive a USI. It will replace the Commonwealth Higher Education Student Support Number currently provided to higher education students, reducing red tape for providers and giving students access to a simpler, more streamlined tertiary identifier.
Creating an online repository for tertiary qualifications
The Australian Government will invest $2.5 million to establish the first phase of a tertiary learning repository for students to record their tertiary qualifications.
The first phase of the repository will create a transcript service hub, giving students easy access to all of their higher education transcripts in one place. In the long term, this centralised repository, would incorporate a student's tertiary qualifications and skills and give them control over their education and training records.
The introduction of the tertiary learning repository recognises that individuals are increasingly moving between higher education and VET, and dipping in and out of study throughout their lives, including through training and micro-credentials.
International education – Destination Australia scholarship program
The Australian Government will establish the Destination Australia scholarship program to support both Australian and international students to study in regional Australia. Over 1000 scholarships of $15,000 will be offered per student, per year to support the study and living expenses associated with studying a Certificate IV to Doctorate level qualification at a regional campus of an eligible tertiary education provider.
This new scholarship program delivers on the Government's commitment to attract more students – both domestic and international – to study in regional locations.
Further information can be found on the International Education website.
International education – Endeavour leadership program
Funding for the Endeavour Leadership Program will not be continued from 2019-20, with $93.7 million in funding over the forward estimates to be redirected to the new Destination Australia scholarships program.
Research – the Stawell Underground Physics Laboratory
The Australian Government will provide $5.0 million to the University of Melbourne to assist in the phase one development of an underground physics laboratory in a disused section of the Stawell gold mine.
The Stawell Underground Physics Laboratory will be the only such facility in the Southern Hemisphere and will be dedicated to conducting sensitive experiments that rely on precision measurement, such as in astronomy.
The location of the laboratory, approximately one kilometre underground, will reduce unwanted radiation interference from sources such as solar particles, which may affect some measurements. For example, such an ultra-low level radiation research facility will enable Australia to play a critical role in the international research efforts to prove that dark matter exists.
The 2016 National Research Infrastructure Roadmap identified precision measurement as an investment priority over the next decade.