Changes to HECS repayment scheme welcomed

1 August 2014

The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sydney, Dr Michael Spence, today welcomed reports that the federal government was proposing to amend its plans to see students pay real interest rates on their student debts.

Fairfax media has today reported that the government intends to amend these plans for changes to student debt repayments. This follows advice from education economist Bruce Chapman, who found low-income graduates could pay 30 per cent more for a degree than their high-income counterparts.

"If these reports are accurate, the University of Sydney welcomes this news," Dr Spence said.

"The University of Sydney has lobbied, privately and publicly, asking the government to look at the terms of the proposed loan scheme with the aim of making it more affordable.

"We have been very concerned about our many graduates who take on important but lower-paying professional jobs, or women or other carers who take career breaks and consequently face an increased financial burden.

"We are delighted that the government has been listening to these concerns.

"The University of Sydney was founded on the principle that academic merit alone, regardless of religious beliefs or social class, would be the test for admission. Our founders recognised the power of education to change society and we hold that belief just as strongly today."

The Vice-Chancellor said the University would continue to urge the government to drop its plans to deregulate fees for students studying higher degrees by research, as well as do its own modelling on how more generous scholarships and bursary schemes could allow access for all students of merit to the University.

"Given we are not sure what the impact of fee deregulation will be on demand, we continue to be concerned about the impact of these changes on higher degrees by research, in particular on Australia's capacity to produce a world-class research workforce," Dr Spence said.

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