On 28 August 2014, the
The Bill aims to reform higher education by deregulating fees and extending demand driven funding to higher education qualifications below the level of bachelor degree, including higher education diplomas, advanced diplomas and associate degrees, and also to private universities and non-university higher education providers.
The Bill would enable providers to determine the amount that students contribute to the cost of their courses and restructures Commonwealth subsidies for Commonwealth supported places to ensure a more equal sharing of costs between taxpayers and students.
To improve access to higher education for all Australians, the Bill directs higher education providers with 500 or more Commonwealth supported places to provide 20 per cent of additional revenue to a Commonwealth Scholarship Scheme.
The Bill also includes a number of changes to the Higher Education Loan Programme (HELP): including new indexation arrangements for HELP debts, a new minimum repayment threshold, removal of loan fees and lifetime fee limit and discontinuation of the HECS-HELP benefit.
Through the Bill, technical amendments are also made to the Australian Research Council Act 2001. These amendments allow additional investment in research through the Future Fellowships programme and would also allow universities to charge Research Training Scheme students’ tuition fees up to a specified maximum amount depending on whether the course is a low cost or high cost course.
This Bill is subject to being passed through Parliament as law.
The Minister’s media release on the Bill is available.