National’s Senator for Victoria, Bridget McKenzie says the Federal Government’s higher education reforms will “drive better outcomes” for both students and taxpayers, according throughout the state.
Senator McKenzie said the reforms delivered on the Turnbull/Joyce Government’s commitment to higher education reforms that are fair, drive quality and excellence, were financially sustainable and ensured students had the choice and opportunities to succeed.
“Regional students in Victoria are big winners from our reforms.
“As well as $280 million for students in the regions over the next four years, we’re delivering a range of initiatives that will help students in our area.
“We’re strengthening the Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program to help remove the barriers that many regional and remote students face in high quality education and support, we’re expanding Government support to sub-bachelor courses to give students a better opportunity to obtain a relevant, recognised qualification more quickly and we’ve committed $24 million for Rural and Regional Enterprise Scholarships, which will support 1200 regional and remote students to undertake science, technology, engineering and mathematics studies.
“We’ve also committed $15 million to establish and maintain up to six new community-owned, regional study hubs like what exists in Geraldton in Western Australia and Cooma in NSW.
“There will be no fee deregulation and we’ll ensure Australians who want to study have the opportunity to do so, that universities are properly accountable for their public funding, and costs and risks were better shared between taxpayers, students and institutions.
“This is about striking the right balance and about setting up our universities for the future.
“These reforms will ensure our record levels of investment in higher education drive better results for students and better value for money for taxpayers,” Senator McKenzie said.
More broadly, the Government’s reforms:
Introduce new performance and accountability measures for universities to ensure students are at the centre of learning with strong retention, completion, satisfaction and job outcomes
Ensure transparency of university entry standards and pathways so students and families have a clear picture of what is expected of them in their degrees
Extends a 2.5 per cent efficiency dividend in 2018 and 2019 to universities, recognising that university revenue per student has grown by 15 per cent since 2010 while average costs for universities have increased by only 9.5 per cent
Extend Commonwealth support to approved sub-bachelor level diploma, advanced diploma and associate degree courses so more students have more pathways to higher education
Better balance the cost share of degrees between students and taxpayers from 42 per cent to 46 per cent for students and 58 per cent to 54 per cent for taxpayers
And lowers the student loan repayment threshold to $42,000 with a one per cent repayment rate
Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham said the reforms mean Australia will have a more sustainable rate of growth in taxpayer support that’s accompanied by measures to ensure universities put the interests of students first.
“Taxpayer funded student loans stand at more than $52 billion and, without changes to address this situation, around a quarter of that is expected to go unpaid,” Minister Birmingham said.
“By rebalancing the share of funding between students and taxpayers and better matching the costs of courses with the money universities receive from the Government, we expect these reforms will save taxpayers $2.8 billion over the forward estimates in underlying cash balance terms.
“The Turnbull Government will spend $27.9 billion for Commonwealth supported places, $11.9 billion on research, $592 million for the Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program and $33.5 billion on student loans over the forward estimates.
“This is a responsible suite of reforms that are fair, they empower student choice and opportunity and strengthen transparency, accountability and quality. They stand in stark contrast to the brash approach from the Labor Party who, when they were last in Government, announced $6.6 billion worth of cuts to the higher education sector.
“This package ensures Government continues to be the majority funder of higher education average course costs and demonstrates that scare campaigns about prohibitive fees have no validity, with course costs for students increasing by no more than $3,600 over a four year degree, none of which has to be paid up-front.
“This reform package gets the balance of funding between students, universities and taxpayers right, is fundamentally fair and ensures every Australian has the opportunity and support to study.”