Chapter 2 Higher Education Support Amendment Bill (No. 2) 2011
The Higher Education Support Amendment Bill (No. 2) 2011 (HESA Bill) was
referred by the House of Representatives Selection Committee on 22 September
2011 and is addressed in this Chapter.
The Committee has assessed the integrity of the amendments in achieving
the policy aims set out by the Government and in the Explanatory Memoranda and
finds that they are an adequate mechanism for meeting these aims.
The HESA Bill is the second in a suite of reforms to allow demand-driven
Commonwealth-funded tertiary education. The first bill lifting the restrictions
on Commonwealth-funded university places was passed by the Parliament in
Outline of the bill
The HESA Bill amends the Higher Education Support Act 2003 to:
n increase the maximum
payments for the Commonwealth Grant Scheme in 2011 and increase maximum payments
for other grants and Commonwealth scholarships for 2012-14 to account for
indexation and include the 2015 calendar year;
n reduce the HECS-HELP
up-front discount from 20 percent to
n reduces the HELP
voluntary repayment bonus from 10 percent to
5 percent; and
n clarifies that Australian
citizens are not entitled to Commonwealth support, HECS-HELP, FEE-HELP and VET
FEE-HELP when undertaking a course of study primarily at an overseas campus.
Of the 19 submissions received to the inquiry into bills referred on 22
September 2011 from education providers or their peak bodies, only two
mentioned the HESA Bill.
Innovative Research Universities supported the Bill.
Universities Australia noted:
a possible inconsistency between the proposed changes and the
broad objective of encouraging Australian students to gain overseas study
The Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations
We are dealing only with people who are primarily undertaking
their course at an overseas campus. People have asked us about the definition
of ‘primarily’. It is simply the Macquarie Dictionary definition meaning the
majority of their course overseas.
We are aware of some people who are basically completely
studying overseas who are in Commonwealth supported places. There are some who
are accessing HELP loans. The bill contains provisions to make sure that those
Australian citizens are not disadvantaged because they have been advised that
they are eligible, so they are able to complete their courses but we are trying
to make it very clear that those situations are not to arise in future…
One of the things that motivated us to act is that up until
the end of 2011 we were operating in a capped environment where there were only
a limited number of Commonwealth supported places. That minimised the
Commonwealth's exposure. Now that we are going to a demand driven system, there
is a much greater potential for the Commonwealth to be exposed to financial
risk, and we believed it was appropriate to clarify the matter.
The Committee concludes that the Higher Education Support Amendment Bill
(No. 2) 2011 is an appropriate proposal to implement the proposed policy changes
to Commonwealth funding of university places.
The Committee recommends that the House pass the Higher
Education Support Amendment Bill (No. 2) 2011.