Government puts university fee deregulation on hold

If your child is looking at their post-school study options, you may be concerned about the higher education reforms introduced in last year’s Federal Budget — primarily the proposed deregulation of university fees. This reform would remove the caps on student contributions and allow public universities to set their own fees for domestic undergraduates. 

With the year drawing to a close, and the reforms already knocked back twice in the Senate, the federal government has confirmed that the reforms will be put on hold until after the next federal election. 

What does this mean for your child?

  • There will be no changes to the higher education system in 2016. Any future reforms will not commence until 2017 at the earliest.

  • Students starting university in 2016 will still pay a set student contribution amount (see below), which falls into one of three bands based on their field of study. These amounts are capped, which means that public universities cannot charge students more than the maximum amount. Note that students at private universities are enrolled in full-fee places, meaning there is no cap on the fees they pay.

  • Government loan schemes, including HECS-HELP, OS-HELP and SA-HELP, will continue as normal in 2016. These schemes allow domestic undergraduates to defer the payment of their tuition fees and other student costs (such as overseas exchange programs and student amenities fees) until they begin earning above the repayment threshold ($54,126 in 2015–16).

  • The government will now meet with stakeholders to consult on future reforms, with an emphasis on finding a model that is sustainable for students, universities and taxpayers.

Student contribution rates (2015)

  • Band 1: Humanities, behavioural science, social studies, education, nursing, visual and performing arts, clinical psychology and foreign languages ($0–6152)
  • Band 2: Mathematics, statistics, computing, built environment, health, engineering, science, surveying and agriculture ($0–8768
  • Band 3: Law, accounting, medicine, dentistry, veterinary science, administration, economics and commerce ($0–10,266
See the federal government’s Study Assist website for more information about student contributions and loan schemes. 
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