3 May 2016

Budget 2016 | Fee deregulation scrapped but universities still face big cuts

| Michael Reid
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The Turnbull Government has abandoned full university fee deregulation but is still banking $2 billion in savings from higher education.

Scott Morrison’s maiden budget ditched the controversial proposal, citing community concerns and evidence about the financial impact on the FEE-HELP student loan scheme. The proposal to allow universities to set their own course fees sparked claims degrees could cost upwards of $100,000.

However, a 20 per cent funding cut for universities, also announced in the 2014 budget but yet to pass parliament, remains on the table.

The government said an expert advisory panel would be established to help finalise the overhaul of the multi-billion dollar sector later this year, with changes now set to start a year later in 2018.

It has outlined a range of potential changes, including lifting the student contribution to course costs from the current 40 per cent to 50 per cent.

Other options it has floated include reducing the income level where repayments start to $40,000; introducing an across-the-board student loan fee to help recover costs for the HELP loan system; increasing repayments from high-income earners; and introducing partial fee deregulation for flagship courses.


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