2023 Federal Budget: IHEA Notes Limited Announcements for Higher Education Sector

Independent Higher Education Australia (IHEA) welcomes the Federal Government’s 2023 Budget delivered tonight as a document that seeks to set a steady economic course for Australia.

IHEA notes the limited announcements regarding the higher education sector. We appreciate that with the ongoing Australian Universities Accord Review of higher education currently underway, and the final Accord report due for release in December 2023, it will not be until the May 2024 Federal Budget that we can expect extensive financial announcements in our sector.

In that respect, we hope that the next Federal Budget addresses the inequitable treatment of students who access FEE-HELP to attend independent providers – because they are required to pay to the Government a 20% fee not required by those who attend public providers – we are prepared to wait for a favourable outcome from the review.

Equally, we still await the levelling of the playing field in respect of the expansion of the Commonwealth Supported Places (CSP) scheme. The scheme should become truly student centred irrespective of whether a domestic student chooses to attend a public or independent provider.

In addition, IHEA would like to see an extension of targeted research grants under the Australian Research Council (ARC) to all registered providers, with eligibility criteria for funding based on quality and capability rather than provider type; and extended access to Government funding blocks under HESA, including equity funding to be extended to all registered providers and eligibility for funding based on quality and capability criteria.

IHEA would also welcome a review of TEQSA Cost Recovery model to develop a fairer model.

For our members who are Dual Sector providers (both higher education and vocational education and training at the same institution) we note that the Federal Government has included $3.7 billion in additional funding for the five-year National Skills Agreement to start on 1 January 2024. Of course, that is subject to negotiations with the States and Territories.

New Budget measures for higher education include:

- $128.5 million to fund 4,000 additional university places over the next four years, to deliver graduates from STEM disciplines to support the AUKUS program.

- 800 places will be allocated to South Australian universities, with the first 200 places commencing in 2024.

- An additional $4.3 million per year invested in the Higher Education Disability Support Program to better engage and support students with disability to access, participate, and succeed in higher education.

- The Women in STEM Cadetships and Advanced Apprenticeships program will be extended by two years, providing more time for women to participate.

- The program provides $25.1 million to support up to 600 employed women to pursue an industry-relevant pre-bachelor higher education STEM qualification, part-time.

Media Contact: Matthew Coote, IHEA Communications Manager (matthew.coote@ihea.edu.au)

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