Unis call on Senate to save them from new government charges

The always policy-focused Innovative Research Universities wants senators to vote against a government measure that will require unis to give the Commonwealth money.

The principle is in the Higher Education Support Charges Bill, which would levy higher education providers for students accessing the loans systems formally known as HECS. While the actual charge per student and overall fee will be set by regulation the IRU estimates it will cost universities $10m in total a year, although the bill’s explanatory memo states it, and a second $12 000 annual fee on institutions where students can borrow, will save the Commonwealth $14.1m over the forward estimates, to 2021-22.

The argument for the bill is that “agencies should set charges to recover some or all the costs of activities that they provide.”

To which the IRU responds that the bills will reduce university spending on students and are misconceived;

Charging providers for students’ use of HECS-HELP and FEE-HELP is to avoid recovering costs from those who actually use the schemes – the students. This shows the fundamental error underlying the charge as created in the bills. The government – rightly – will not charge students directly for access to HELP. Yet it will, instead, penalise students by further reducing the resources universities and other higher education providers have to deliver students a good education.”

Or, as a learned reader puts it, “put plain and simple it’s a tax on universities.”

As to how crossbench and Opposition senators will vote; the Senate scrutiny of bills committee has questions but they don’t focus on the IRU’s issues.


to get daily updates on what's happening in the world of Australian Higher Education