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Australia's student loans reforms need more time

Posted by Tom Walker in

In a continuation of Australia's student loan reforms, the Australian education minister, Christopher Pyne, has highlighted the need to "provide as much time as possible" to deal with, and implement, the higher education reforms currently being debated by Australia's parliament owing to their importance and complexity. The bill includes deregulation on domestic tuition fees, higher interest rates on Australian student loans and an average 20% cut to commonwealth subsidies for university degrees. The Coalition warns that due to the extent of the bill, both students and universities need enough time to adapt to these changes. Prospective students must be fully aware of tuition changes before their application process, and further to that, higher education institutions need "time to undertake the necessary communications activities." The government clarified to Australian senators and MPs that higher education providers would require significant time in order to implement the relevant administration procedures, involving training staff, understanding government reporting and installing IT changes.

Opposition leader, Bill Shorten, raised his concern that prospective students would be ill informed on university open days as they would "not be able to get a straight answer as to how much the courses are going to cost." The removal of caps on tuition fees is currently set for the 1st January 2016 for anyone who enrolled onto a course after the 13th May 2014 budget announcement. The Australian department for education has signalled that students who were already enrolled on a course when the budget was announced will not be affected.

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