Reforming helpers

10 October 2016

A new expert advisory panel will support the Australian Government's higher education reform agenda.

Enrolled students and population growth in Australia. Source: from report; Department of Education and Training; ABS 3101.0

Following the first unsuccessful attempt in 2014-15, the Coalition Government has been struggling to develop a higher education reform package that could find Senate support.

The newly appointed expert advisory panel comprises:

It shelved the contentious proposal to implement fully flexible course fees, and changes to the system will not commence until at least 2018.

The new approach will be "considered and consultative", according to Education Minister Senator Simon Birmingham.

The Government's has detailed new policy options in a paper Driving Innovation, Fairness and Excellence in Australian Higher Education, which it released in May.

The paper also lays out the case for reform:

Student numbers have rapidly grown over the last 25 years. In particular, changes to the system made by the previous Labor Government in 2009 led to an increase of supported places in higher education by 60%, while nominal GDP grew by only 30%. Funding of university students grew twice the rate of the economy, and outstanding student loans under the HECS (now HELP) scheme increased to over $40 billion.

Over 1,000 submissions were made in response to the paper, and will now be considered by the expert advisory panel working alongside the Education Minister.
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