Australians will use their time social distancing to develop skills for new jobs in National Priority areas such as nursing, teaching, health, IT and science under a plan from the Morrison Government.
The cost to study short, online courses from our world-class universities and private providers will be slashed to help Australians retrain. The courses will start at the beginning of May and initially will run for six months.
Our Government will also guarantee funding for universities at current levels, even if there is a fall in domestic student numbers, and provide greater flexibility in the use of these funds than ever before.
Tertiary and international education providers will get regulatory fee relief so they can better support domestic and international students, as well as exemptions from loan fees under FEE-HELP and VET Student Loans.
Minister for Education Dan Tehan said these reforms would incentivise students and universities to align with the needs of industry to meet the skill demands for the new economy that will emerge from the pandemic.
"This plan will help Australians who have lost their job or are looking to retrain to use their time studying nursing, teaching, counselling, allied health or other areas considered national priorities," Mr Tehan said.
"It will also provide a revenue stream for universities and private providers to assist their financial stability.
"Like the rest of the Australian community, the higher education sector has taken a financial hit because of the coronavirus.
"These reforms will help universities pivot towards a closer alignment of domestic industry and student demands through innovative micro-credentials delivered flexibly online.
"Universities have proven they are up to the challenge of shifting their approach. Universities have been agile in their response to COVID19, moving swiftly to the online delivery of courses and providing additional support to international students."
The Morrison Government had already committed to providing universities with more than $18 billion this year. Under the plan announced today, the Government will guarantee Commonwealth Grants Scheme (CGS) and HELP funding streams for higher education providers at their current levels for the rest of 2020. For public universities, their 2020 performance-based funding amounts will also be guaranteed.
Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash said there would be significant regulatory and fee relief provided to the vocational education and training sector, as well as higher education.
"We’re listening to industry, which is why fees charged by the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA), and the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) will be refunded or waived," Minister Cash said.
"These measures will put some $100 million back into the cash flow of Australian education and training businesses so this money can be used to retain employees, reshape education offerings and support domestic and international students."
New cost recovery arrangements for TEQSA, ASQA and for the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS) will all be deferred by 12 months to 1 July 2021.
There will also be a six-month exemption from the loan fees associated with FEE-HELP and VET Student Loans in the sector in a bid to encourage full-fee paying students to continue their studies despite these difficult times.