A stronger and more sustainable higher education system

May 2, 2017

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Federal Member for Wentworth has welcomed the recently announced higher education reforms.

“They are fair for both students and taxpayers, drive better outcomes and excellence, are financially sustainable and will ensure students have the choice and opportunities to succeed.

“There will be no fee deregulation and we’ll ensure Australians who want to study have the opportunity to do so, that universities are properly accountable for their public funding, and costs and risks are better shared between taxpayers, students and institutions,” Mr Turnbull said.

The Turnbull Government’s reforms:

  • Introduce new performance and accountability measures for universities to ensure students are at the centre of learning with strong retention, completion, satisfaction and job outcomes

  • Ensure transparency of university entry standards and pathways so students and families have a clear picture of what is expected of them in their degrees

  • Deliver more funding and support for the Higher Education Participation and Partnerships program to support students from regional and rural areas, students with Indigenous backgrounds and students from low SES backgrounds get what they need to succeed at university

  • Support up to eight community-owned regional study hubs

  • Extends a 2.5 per cent efficiency dividend in 2018 and 2019 to universities, recognising that university revenue per student has grown by 15 per cent since 2010 while average costs for universities have increased by only 9.5 per cent

  • Extend Commonwealth support to approved sub-bachelor level diploma, advanced diploma and associate degree courses so more students have more pathways to higher education

  • Better balance the cost share of degrees between students and taxpayers from 42 per cent to 46 per cent for students and 58 per cent to 54 per cent for taxpayers

  • Will lower the student loan repayment threshold to $42,000 with a one per cent repayment rate

Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham said the reforms mean Australia will have a more sustainable rate of growth in taxpayer support that’s accompanied by measures to ensure universities put the interests of students first.

“Taxpayer funded student loans stand at more than $52 billion and, without changes to address this situation, around a quarter of that is expected to go unpaid,” Minister Birmingham said.

“By rebalancing the share of funding between students and taxpayers and better matching the costs of courses with the money universities receive from the Government, we expect these reforms will save taxpayers $2.8 billion over the forward estimates in underlying cash balance terms.

“The Turnbull Government will spend $27.9 billion for Commonwealth supported places, $11.9 billion on research, $592 million for the Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program and $33.5 billion on student loans over the forward estimates.

“They empower student choice, strengthen transparency, and stand in stark contrast to the brash approach from the Labor Party who, when they were last in Government, announced $6.6 billion worth of cuts to the higher education sector.

“This package ensures Government continues to be the majority funder of higher education average course costs and demonstrates that scare campaigns about prohibitive fees have no validity, with course costs for students increasing by no more than $3,600 over a four year degree, none of which has to be paid up-front.

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