The Minister for Education and Training, Simon Birmingham, has announced a package of reforms to higher education – the Higher Education Reform Package – to take effect generally from 1 January 2018. The details announced will be confirmed in the 2017–2018 Federal Budget. They include:
- an increased maximum student contribution from 1 January 2018;
- no up-front fees or deregulation of fees;
- a new set of repayment thresholds from 1 July 2018, changing repayment timings and quantities for all current and future Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) debtors;
- a new minimum repayment threshold at $42,000 of income from 1 July 2018 with a lower 1% repayment rate, and a new maximum threshold of $119,882 of income with a repayment rate of 10%;
- phasing in increased maximum student contributions by 1.8% each year between 2018 and 2021, cumulating in a 7.5% increase; and
- from 1 July 2019, indexation of HELP repayment thresholds, currently linked to Average Weekly Earnings (AWE), will be changed to align to the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
The Minister said that 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.