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Higher education in the Budget – the government’s statement

13 May 2014

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Higher education spending will rise appreciably in 2014-15,  from $8.7 billion to $10.9 billion (25%), with the extension of the demand driven system to sub-bachelor places and non-university higher education providers. Modest further growth is forecast out to 2017-18, to $11.8 billion (9%).

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mortar board

“Australia’s higher education system is the key to our economic prosperity.”

This is where the professional workforce for the jobs and the economy of the future is formed. It is through universities and colleges that individuals are given the opportunity to realise their aspirations to a high skill career. Australia needs to be sure that it is providing graduates with skills that are internationally competitive and relevant.

Universities and colleges also provide the platform for innovation, creativity and productivity. Australia’s economy relies on the research and the highly skilled graduates produced by higher education to innovate and adopt world’s best practice. Our researchers are leading the world in solving some of the most pressing problems facing Australia and the world through a highly competitive and well-resourced research capability.

To ensure that we retain our position as a knowledge-based nation, the Government has announced a comprehensive reform agenda for a world class higher education system. This agenda focuses on providing choice and opportunity for students, wherever they study in Australia and whatever they choose to do. It will foster excellence by deregulating the provision of higher education and directing public funding to where it is needed, so that the decisions of students, the needs of employers and the initiative of our academic leaders drives the future of our higher education system.

From January 2016, universities will be able to offer Commonwealth supported places on a demand-driven basis to students enrolling in any accredited undergraduate qualification. For the first time ever, the Australian Government will provide tuition subsidies for undergraduate students studying at any registered higher education provider for any accredited course.

These changes will give students greater choice about where they study, as they will be able to access an Australian Government subsidised place no matter which higher education provider they choose. It will also generate competition in the higher education market as institutions will compete on a more equal basis for students. This will help to drive quality improvements. By 2018, over 80,000 additional students a year will be supported to study in the course that is best for them.
From January 2016 there will also be changes to the amounts the Australian Government provides under the Commonwealth Grant Scheme. These changes, combined with changes to the Higher Education Loan Programme (HELP), will help ensure the sustainability of the higher education system into the future.

These reforms will ensure that there is a fair sharing of the costs for higher education between public funding and the students who benefit from this education. The removal of the maximum student contributions for all Commonwealth supported students will for the first time enable competition based on quality and innovation in the higher education system. Current students will continue under existing arrangements until 2020, or when they complete their studies―whichever is earlier.

The retention and improvement of the HELP will mean that no student is denied the opportunity to study for financial reasons. The removal of loan fees and limits, together with the application of a fair interest rate and repayment threshold will ensure that this scheme remains affordable, so that the Government can continue to help students defer the costs of their study until they are earning.

These new arrangements will facilitate choice and opportunity for students from all backgrounds. Alongside the continuation of the Higher Education Participation Programme, higher education institutions will also dedicate 20 per cent of their additional revenue raised through student contributions to scholarships and other supports for disadvantaged students.

The Government has committed a strong and sustained investment in research that supports innovation and allows industry to grow and generate exports and income. Through a total investment of $11 billion over four years in research in universities, the Government has ensured the future of key programmes such as the Future Fellowships and the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy.

These reforms also provide a focus on quality. Students will have better information to support their decisions about where and what to study. Accreditation arrangements will be improved and streamlined through the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency.

The New Colombo Plan is a signature initiative of the Australian Government, supported by a commitment of $100 million in new funding over five years which aims to lift knowledge of the Indo Pacific in Australia and strengthen people-to-people and institutional relationships, through study and internships undertaken by Australian undergraduate students in the region.

HE Budget 2014-15HE Budget 2014-15 (2)

See the full statement – Higher Education Budget Statement and Tables
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