Improving the sustainability of higher education

The higher education sector will be more sustainable through moderating the rate of funding growth, improvements to the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) and strengthening responsibility for recognising and rewarding quality learning and teaching.

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New schedule of repayment thresholds for the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP)

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.

The Australian Government is improving the sustainability of the HELP scheme by introducing a new set of HELP repayment thresholds and rates from 1 July 2018. This will help ensure that the HELP scheme is affordable and can continue to help people to participate in tertiary education.

Under this measure, the compulsory HELP repayment threshold will be set at $45,000 with a one per cent repayment rate, while the second threshold will be $51,957 with a two per cent repayment rate. The new maximum will be $131,989 with a repayment rate of 10 per cent.

New indexation arrangements for repayment thresholds for the Higher Education Loan Program

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).

In addition to the proposed changes of the compulsory repayment threshold, indexing the repayment thresholds at CPI (instead of AWE) will maintain the value of the thresholds in real terms, as the thresholds will increase in line with consumer prices rather than average wages.

New limit for Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) loans

From 1 January 2019, the Government will introduce a combined cap on the amount of tertiary assistance a student can access for tuition fees.  The new HELP tuition limit will apply to HECS-HELP loans, FEE-HELP loans, VET FEE-HELP and VET Student Loans. This limit will be $150,000 for students undertaking medicine, dentistry and veterinary science courses and $104,440 for other students.

New cap on Commonwealth Grants Scheme (CGS) funding

In 2018 and 2019, the amount of funding provided through the Commonwealth Grant Scheme (CGS) for bachelor degree courses will be capped at the amount provided for 2017. From 2020 onwards, higher education providers will be able to grow their CGS funding in line with national working age population growth if they meet certain performance requirements.

Quality in higher education learning and teaching

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.

Under this measure, the PELTHE program will cease from 1 January 2018. All financial obligations to ongoing grants made under PELTHE will be met, with the last payments to be made by the end of 2017.

Transfer of the Australian Awards for University Teaching to Universities Australia

From 1 January 2018, responsibility for the AAUT will be transferred to Universities Australia. This recognises that the best approach to the long-term sustainability of the awards lies with the higher education sector taking ownership and ensuring that the AAUT target exceptional performance in areas that are relevant, and important, to the sector.

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.