Higher Education Reform Package

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.

The Higher Education Reform Package

The Higher Education Reform Package Overview

Regional fact sheet benefits of Higher Education Reform Package

Analysis of claims relating to the impact of Higher Education Reform Package

Improving the sustainability of higher education

The higher education sector will be more sustainable through changes to the sharing of costs between taxpayers and students, improvements to the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) and strengthening responsibility for recognising and rewarding quality learning and teaching.

  • The maximum student contribution will increase for all Commonwealth students from 1 January 2018 with an offsetting reduction in taxpayer funding. The Commonwealth will remain the majority funder of higher education teaching and learning.
  • Subsidies provided under the Commonwealth Grant Scheme (CGS) will be subject to a 2.5 per cent efficiency dividend applied in each of 2018 and 2019. The existing medical loading of $1394 per EFTSL in 2017 will be extended to include veterinary science and dentistry units of study from 2018 to improve the funding arrangements for these courses.
  • A new set of repayment thresholds will be introduced from 1 July 2018, affecting all current and future HELP debtors by changing the timing and quantity of their repayments.
  • From 1 July 2019 the indexation of Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) repayment thresholds, currently linked to Average Weekly Earnings (AWE), will be changed to align to the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
  • From 1 January 2018, subsidies for most Australian permanent residents and most New Zealand (NZ) citizens enrolling in a Commonwealth Supported Place (CSP) will be withdrawn, making them fee‑paying students.
  • The Promotion of Excellence in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education (PELTHE) program will cease and the administration of the Australian Awards for University Teaching (AAUT) and the Office for Learning and Teaching digital repository will be transferred to Universities Australia.

For more information visit Improving the sustainability of higher education

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More choice for students

The higher education sector will be more responsive to the aspirations of students and the needs of the future workforce. Incentives to deliver unnecessary qualifications or to maintain outmoded curriculum and course delivery methods will be replaced with mechanisms which ensure Commonwealth Supported Places provide better value to students and to the economy. Funding mechanisms to support universities enrolling students from low socio-economic backgrounds will also be reformed.

  • The Government will commit $15 million over four years to assist in the establishment and maintenance of up to eight community-owned, regional study hubs across mainland Australia.
  • The Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program (HEPPP) will be reformed to deliver three funding streams to universities – a loading for each eligible low socio-economic status (SES) student, performance funding based on success rates of low SES and Indigenous students, and a National Priorities Pool to give a greater focus on rigorous evaluative research and to encourage collaboration between universities.
  • In 2019 the Government will implement a 'student-centred' model for the distribution of postgraduate coursework places, ensuring the places are used at the institutions where students want to study.
  • Under the Government's proposed reforms, the demand driven funding system will be expanded to include Commonwealth Supported Places (CSPs) in approved sub-bachelor level diploma, advanced diploma and associate degree courses at public universities from 1 January 2018. The Government recently published the sub bachelor courses - implementation discussion paper to support the implementation of this policy.
  • A new distribution mechanism for enabling courses will be implemented from 1 January 2019 to better match places to student need. The Commonwealth will also abolish the loading on enabling places from 1 January 2018 and replace the loading with an equivalent maximum student contribution rate.
  • From 1 January 2018, Commonwealth contributions will be provided for Work Experience in Industry (WEI) units that are credited towards a Commonwealth supported qualification.

For more information visit More choice for students.

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Increased transparency and accountability

The higher education sector will be more accountable—and more open to scrutiny—for the manner in which it expends taxpayer funding. The retention of a system that provides broad and uncapped access to higher education needs greater transparency to show that the institutions are making the right decisions about who to enrol and in what they are enrolling.

  • From 1 January 2018 the Government is introducing a performance-based element to the CGS, worth 7.5 per cent of total CGS cluster funding.
  • The Government has accepted all recommendations of the Higher Education Standards Panel (HESP) report, Improving the Transparency of Higher Education Admissions. The Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) will be provided $3.3 million over four years to work with key stakeholders in Australia's higher education sector to develop a joint plan to implement the Panel's key recommendations.
  • The Government will work with the higher education sector to establish a more transparent framework for the collection of financial data from higher education providers in order to regularly report on the cost of teaching and research by field of education.
  • The Government will undertake a review of the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) commencing in the second half of 2017, to be completed by 31 December 2018.
  • The Higher Education Standards Panel (HESP) will oversee a review of the Criteria for Higher Education Providers commencing in the second half of 2017 to be completed during the first half of 2018.

For more information visit Increased transparency and accountability.

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Provider FAQs

For further information about how these reforms affect universities and private higher education providers, visit Provider FAQs.

Student FAQs

For further information about how these reforms affect students, visit Study Assist.


Factsheets on the Higher Education Reform measures.