Minister for Education and Training the Hon Christopher Pyne MP has announced the Government will move an amendment in the Senate to split the Higher Education and Research Reform Bill into two.
The 20 per cent reduction to the Commonwealth Grants Scheme funding will be set aside for a separate debate at a later time.
Mr Pyne said the change would ensure the Reform Bill is seen entirely for what it is – vital reform for students, universities and Australia’s economy.
“This Government will not let our universities and higher education sector slip into slow decline, sabotaging our nation’s future as a highly skilled economy,” Mr Pyne said.
“I have consistently said the reforms that will transform higher education in Australia are at the heart of this package,” Mr Pyne said .
“I am not prepared to let these reforms be drowned out by distractions and it is clear to me that the Bill will not pass the Senate in its current form.
“This Government is deeply committed to reforming higher education, as are all university peak bodies, other higher education peak bodies and prominent opinion leaders from both sides of politics. There is no other choice and no viable alternative has been proposed.
“Therefore, the Government will split the Bill, and set aside for later consideration the 20 per cent reduction in the Commonwealth Grants Scheme,” he said.
The amended Bill will contain:
- Measures allowing universities to specialise and provide the best possible education for their students
- Deregulation of domestic undergraduate fees, which would always be lower than international fees
- A major Commonwealth Scholarship program to help students with living and other expenses
- A massive spreading of opportunity to students who need pathways to qualify for university or sub-degree qualifications to prepare them for jobs
- A fairer spread of HECS to students who choose to study with non-university higher education providers such as private colleges and TAFEs, where students would no longer pay large loan fees
- Other amendments such as maintaining CPI on HECS and an interest pause for new parents, proposed by cross-benchers.
“As part of my discussions with the cross-bench Senators, the Government has decided to remove the distraction and guarantee funding for the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy for a further twelve months,” Mr Pyne said.
“The funding for this will be found from offsets in the Budget and it will not be subject to the passage of the Higher Education and Research Reform Bill.
“I want the Senate to consider these vital reforms for universities and the great benefits this package brings for students without any further distractions,” Mr Pyne said.