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Flagpost is a blog on current issues of interest to members of the Australian Parliament

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Unknown costs a challenge for the class of 2014

As universities around the country hold Open Days, and closing dates for applications for 2015 entry loom, spare a thought for this year’s crop of Year 12 students. Not only do they have the usual challenges of deciding what course they want to do, and considering what Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank (ATAR) they might get, they also have no idea how much a university course might cost them.  Read more...

You can still get a free university education—you just have to be prepared to die for it

There has been considerable discussion about the increasing Higher Education Loan Programme (HELP) debt that students are likely to accrue as a result of changes proposed in the recent Budget. One group of students will not feel the impact of these increased debt levels—those who die before they repay the debt. There are reports that the Government is considering changing this, although it has been denied by the Prime Minister. Read more...

Higher education savings - students pick up the bill

The government’s Statement on Higher Education announces savings measures in three areas. Reaction from, and on behalf of, the higher education sector has been negative. The peak body representing universities, Universities Australia, has condemned the cuts.Yet it is not the universities that will bear the brunt of the savings but their students.Of the expected $2.33 billion in savings:$230 million is coming from removal of HECS discounts and repayment bonuses$900 million is coming from the two-year, 2 per cent efficiency dividend being applied to university funding, and$1,200 million is coming from conversion of the Student Start-up Scholarship from a benefit to a loan.Only one of these mea... Read more...

And then there were none: HECS discounts

On 13 April 2013 the Australian government released a Statement on Higher Education. One of the three savings measures announced is ‘removal of the 10 per cent discount on paying university fees upfront and the 5 per cent bonus received for voluntary repayment of HELP debts’.  This move is the end of the line for two incentives that have been whittled away over the past ten years. Abolishing them is expected to save $230 million.Higher Education Loan Program (HELP)The Higher Education Contribution scheme (HECS) was first introduced in 1989. Its purpose was to provide income contingent loans to Commonwealth supported students.In 2005 there was a major overhaul of the scheme. Additional loans ... Read more...

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