After 2 years of big news for the higher education sector, this year’s federal budget hasn’t proposed major changes to education. Little news is good news, as they (sort of) say. In this case, the proposed changes are actually good news, with far more presence of the word ‘funding’, than the word ‘cuts’.
Keep in mind that the proposed changes are likely to change again, with the election predicted to take place in May. Nevertheless, it’s good to get an idea of where the priorities lie – at least for now.
Recap on last year’s budget
Last year, a few major changes were proposed. Highlights were:
- Freeze on funding increases for universities, shifting from demand-driven funding to capped funding until 2020.
- Lowered loan repayment threshold, requiring student debts to be repaid when salary reaches $45,000.
- Less Commonwealth Supported Places available, particularly for those studying a postgraduate degree
- Replacing the lifetime borrowing limit on FEE-HELP loans with a general limit, to allow repeated borrowing up to $100,000
- More funding for rural students
This year’s highlights for Higher Ed
Advantages for HELP debt holders
- Teachers who commit to a teaching role in a remote school for a minimum of 4 years will have their debt remitted.
- Students studying aviation at VET level can access to a higher loan limit of $150,000
- The application fee and annual charge for holding a HELP debt will be delayed by 12 months
Bringing the USI to higher ed
The Unique Student Identifier (USI) was previously used for VET-level education, but will now extend to higher education. Currently, uni students receive an ID number specific to their university, but the USI will track a person’s studies at any institution Australia wide. The data captured by the USI will help track trends on a wider scale, and help inform future policies.
Destination Australia Scholarship
In an effort to encourage more students to regional and rural areas of Australia, the Government plans to establish ‘Destination Australia’, which will offer over 1000 scholarships to both Australian and international students, at $15,000 per year.
Whichever way the election takes our country, we’re confident that higher education will still be of utmost importance, and the accessibility to higher education, still a major priority. If you’d like more details on this year’s budget, visit the Department of Education and Training website.
As always, our door is always open to you, no matter your academic history. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with a friendly student advisor if you’d like chat about your vision for the future.