Release type: Media Release


Building a world-class higher education system


The Hon Christopher Pyne MP
Minister for Education
Leader of the House

The Abbott Government has a plan to ensure that our students enjoy the best higher education choices in the world and that Australia is not left behind by global competition.

The reforms announced in the 2014-15 Budget will build a higher education system that stands amongst the world’s best.

The Abbott Government will expand opportunities and provide support for students by:

  • for the first time in Australian history, providing direct Commonwealth financial support to all those studying higher education diplomas, advanced diplomas and associate degrees, as well as those studying bachelor degrees, with all registered higher education institutions, whether in the city or the bush;
  • establishing a new Commonwealth Scholarship scheme to assist students from disadvantaged backgrounds so they don’t miss out;
  • removing loan fees for undergraduate students for FEE-HELP and VET FEE-HELP;
  • ensuring students continue to be protected by the HELP loan system no matter which university, college or course they choose;
  • ensuring graduates will only begin repaying their HELP debt when they are earning a decent income; and
  • providing a fair interest rate on HELP where the Government lends to students at a rate that broadly reflects the cost of Government borrowings to fund their student loans.

The Abbott Government’s plan will strengthen the higher education system.

Students will not have to pay a dollar upfront for their course because they will have access to the Higher Education Loan Programme.

Universities will be able to compete to attract students because they will be able to set their own tuition fees for the courses they offer.

The new Commonwealth Scholarship scheme will be established by universities contributing $1 of every $5 they receive from additional fee revenue. These scholarships will expand opportunities for students from low socio-economic backgrounds, Indigenous students and students from regional Australia.

These new arrangements will mean our smartest students can receive a world-class education no matter what their background and where they’re from.

Unshackling universities, colleges and TAFEs also benefits regional areas, helping these institutions to grow their local economy and attract more students.

The Commonwealth will provide around $15.6 billion to universities this year, which will continue to increase every year.

By rebalancing the Commonwealth’s contribution towards course fees for new students with a reduction of 20 per cent on average, with effect from 1 January 2016, and allowing universities to determine the fees they charge, the Commonwealth will be able to sustainably meet the growth in students undertaking study, and will spread the opportunity of a higher education to more students.

The new arrangements for university fees will apply from 2016, but all currently enrolled students will continue under current arrangements until 2020.

This reform package will ensure that our higher education system as a whole is better resourced. This package will ensure a higher quality education system, and that universities and students are not left behind by competitors overseas.

The Abbott Government will free up our education system to provide Australians with the best higher education in the world.

In a competitive global economy, we need to make sure our higher education system keeps pace with the best in the world. Young people studying in Australia need to know that their degree can take them anywhere.

We need a relentless focus on the quality and impact of our higher education institutions.

A world-class higher education system is vital to a world-class economy and world-class living standards.

According to recent studies graduates earn on average 75 per cent more over their lifetimes than those who just complete Year 12.

The Government is making decisions that repair the Budget, strengthen the economy and prepare Australia for the long-term challenges before us.