Message to staff and students from the Vice-Chancellor: federal budget update

1 August 2014

You may have seen reports in Fairfax media today that the federal government is planning to amend its proposals to link students' debt to the government bond rate.

If accurate, this is a welcome step in the right direction. As you will recall from my previous messages (available on the University website), I have been lobbying the government publicly and privately since May over concerns that its proposed changes to the HELP loan scheme would make university education an unattainable goal for many.

I know many of you share my concerns about the potential impact on our current and future students - in particular graduates who choose to follow important professional careers in lower-paying sectors, or women or other carers who take career breaks and consequently face an increased financial burden. These concerns relate not only to the proposed changes to how interest is calculated, but also to the planned lowering of the income level at which students must start to repay their loans, changing when they must start to make repayments.

We will continue to lobby on our concerns around affordability and in other areas before legislation is introduced into parliament, probably later this month. These concerns also include the plan to deregulate fees for students studying higher degrees by research, where we anticipate an adverse impact on demand would affect Australia's capacity to produce a world-class research workforce.

I will continue to keep you updated.