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University fee deregulation bill

30 October 2014

Sector responses

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It’s hardly news that all the university groups are as one that there is no alternative to fee deregulation to provide the funding to maintain the quality of Australian higher education (given declining public funding).  They are not as one on how the proposed Commonwealth Scholarship scheme funding  (provided by students) should be divvied up: the Group of 8 and ATN argue the money should be held and disbursed by the collecting institution, the  RUN and IRU argue that it should be pooled and disbursed on a needs basis.

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Universities Australia

Drawing on a survey which shows 56% of Australians support the deregulation of university fees if the Senate makes ua logochanges to secure fairness for students, families and taxpayers, Universities Australia. UA proposes three key changes to the package:
• reduce the magnitude of the 20 per cent cut in the government contribution to relieve upward pressure on fee price;
• maintain the CPI interest rate on student loans; and
• provide for an adjustment package to assist with the transition to a market-based system.

Chief executive Belinda Robinson said that we have a problem with funding Australian universities sustainably that must be addressed.

quote marksLet’s not kick the can down the road for another generation to grapple with and risk the quality and competitiveness of our higher education system.

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Regional Universities Network 

RUN LogoThe passage of the bill with changes proposed by RUN would help regional students attend and succeed at regional universities and would increase the number of professionals working in regional Australia. The findings of the committee in large part support the changes that RUN has been advocating in relation to interest rates, transitional funding and scholarships.

quote marksIt is important to encourage students to study in regional Australia so that they will work in the regions. The decision to study at a particular university should be at the choice of the student, not because one university or another can offer large scholarships.

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Group of  Eight 

The Go8 supports the direction of the proposed reforms. The Australian higher education sector is at a turning point: Go8 logocurrent settings are not sustainable and a new approach is needed. The improvements recommended by the Committee will prevent unintended negative impacts on students, graduates and universities, while diversifying the range of study options for students.

quote marksLet’s not kick the can down the road for another generation to grapple with and risk the quality and competitiveness of our higher education system.

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Innovative Research Universities

IRU8495_logoThe Senate Education and Employment Legislation Committee report supports the need to pass the Bill and confirms important areas for change in  not imposing the ten year bond rate to index all HELP debts and for a structural adjustment fund to support the transition for all universities.  It is unfortunate, given the recent flurry of claims about the proposed Commonwealth Scholarship Scheme, that the Committee avoided the options to make it workable.  The IRU continues to support the need to pool the funds for Commonwealth Scholarships so that universities have funding for scholarships in line with their enrolment of students needing financial support.

quote marksAt heart, the role of universities is to educate and to develop knowledge. To do this well universities need more resources.

 

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Australian Technology Network

ATN recognises the pragmatic need for the removal of the current maximum student contribution amounts that providers ATN logocan charge for Commonwealth supported places – the so-called ‘deregulation’ of the domestic higher education system. There are a number of key points which have been clearly articulated by Universities Australia as representing the view and needs of the sector:
• We must reduce the magnitude of the 20% in the government contribution
• We cannot burden students with a loan scheme linked to the long-term bond rate
• We must actively assist universities during a transition from regulation to deregulation
• We must progress a commonwealth scholarship scheme devolved to the individual institutions for its implementation
• We must ensure appropriate oversight is put in place over implementation of the changes advanced.

quote marks… the complex reality is that provision of [an affordable and accessible] system for future generations of students requires action now, to ensure that sustainable funding base is secured.

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