Statement from the CEO – Partial Abolition of the FEE-HELP Loan Fee

Independent Higher Education Australia (IHEA) welcomes the partial abolition of the HELP scheme Loan Fee for students enrolled with Australia’s high quality independent universities.

Statements by IHEA CEO, Simon Finn

Partial Abolition of the FEE-HELP Loan Fee Exacerbates Ongoing Higher Education Disadvantage

Independent Higher Education Australia (IHEA) welcomes the partial abolition of the HELP scheme Loan Fee for students enrolled with Australia’s high quality independent universities.

“Prior to the parliament passing the Higher Educations Support Amendment Bill, students of independent universities were required to loan 125% of their course costs. These students will no longer be penalised when they access Commonwealth support to undertake their studies.

COPHE welcomes the abolition of the tax on university choice for these students. Any removal of unfair taxes on education choice is a positive outcome for Australian education.”

The Tax on Education Choice Remains

Whilst welcoming the abolition of the 25% loan fee for students of independent universities, disadvantage and unfair penalty remains for tens of thousands of Australian students.

“Abolition of the FEE-HELP Loan Fee for independent universities has exacerbated the disadvantage for other higher education students. The government continues to penalise students who pursue their studies through an independent higher education college.

The tax on higher education choice continues. The HELP Loan Fee is now simply an unfair tax applied to students whose educational aspirations are met by an independent higher education provider that is not a university.

The new class of penalised students are Australian undergraduate students studying at a higher education college. This cohort of Australian students is still required to loan 125% of their course costs and are accruing Commonwealth debts that are 25% higher than the costs of their studies.

Failure to abolish the unfair loan tax for all students belies the government’s rhetoric of seeking to reduce student debt levels.”

Loan Fee modelling by IHEA indicates that the loan fee contributes less than 10 million annually to the Australian government.

“Abolition of the Loan Fee is simply an equity issue – all Australian students studying in accredited courses with registered providers should be treated equally by government. The price of equity for all Australian students is a measly $10 million per annum against significant savings in subsidies for Australian university students.

With a few exceptions, students enrolled with an independent provider meet the full costs of their education without Commonwealth subsidy. The enormous inequity of FEE-HELP loan tax is that students with the least demand on the taxpayer are hit with the highest penalty.”

Australia’s independent higher education providers are rated highly by students for the quality of their education.

“Independent higher education providers dominate the highest quality rankings by students under the government’s QILT surveys. It is completely inequitable that a student choosing to enroll in a course based on the government’s own quality rankings pays a penalty for this choice.”

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