In May 2014 the Australian Government proposed major changes to higher education funding in its federal budget. It introduced the Higher Education and Research Reform Amendment Bill 2014 into parliament on 28 August.
You can follow the progress of the bill on the Parliament of Australia website.
These pages provide you with information about what the government proposals mean for the University of Sydney and our students, and what we are doing in response.
About the changes
The government changes would have significant implications for universities, including the University of Sydney and our students.
- The government has proposed deregulating undergraduate student fees for domestic students. This means that universities would be free to decide their own fees for all undergraduate courses. (At the moment, the government sets fees charged to domestic undergraduate students, while universities are already able to set their own fees for domestic postgraduate students, and international students at undergraduate and postgraduate levels.)
- The budget also proposed cutting the funding that universities receive for each Commonwealth-supported student by an average of 20 percent.
- The government has also proposed expanding the demand-driven funding system, allowing universities to take in as many students as they like into undergraduate courses.
- Once they have absorbed the financial impact of the cuts to government support for Commonwealth-funded students, universities would have to commit one dollar in every five of any fee increases they introduce to a new scholarship fund that will support disadvantaged domestic students.
- While the current HELP loan scheme would continue to be available to domestic undergraduate students who are eligible for federal government support, the government has proposed reducing the income level at which those students must start to repay their loans, changing when they must start to make repayments, and adjusting the basis for calculating interest on their loans.
About the University’s response
We are committed to ensuring that a University of Sydney education should continue to be accessible to the most promising students, whatever their social or cultural background.
We are lobbying the government directly about the impact of the changes, in particular over our concern about the impact on our current and future students.
While it is unclear how federal parliament will amend the original government proposals, the University’s leadership is committed to a multi-channel consultative process with our key stakeholders – our students and their parents, our staff, and our alumni – to inform our response.
This has included staff forums across the University's academic divisions, a 25 August 'town hall' meeting, and a series of focus groups on 2 October.
Messages from the Vice-Chancellor
The Vice-Chancellor has set out his position in a number of messages, interviews and opinion pieces.
- 27 August message to staff and students
- 26 August interview on ABC TV Lateline about the government's reform package for universities
- 1 August news release: Changes to HECS repayment scheme welcomed
- 1 August Vice-Chancellor message to staff and students
- 22 July Vice-Chancellor message to staff
- 27 June Vice-Chancellor message to staff
- 12 June Vice-Chancellor message to staff and students
- 28 May opinion piece by the Vice-Chancellor in the Sydney Morning Herald
- 21 May Vice-Chancellor message to staff and students