Subsidy cut may spark fee rise

Ms Terry said the university supported the development of sustainable higher education, but warned proposed changes to government subsidy could lead to a shortage of graduates in key disciplines.

‘If the government subsidy to students decreases, Curtin will have to increase fees to remain financially sustainable and to continue to offer high-quality education and support services to our students,’ she said.

Higher education was globally competitive and Australian universities needed to be internationally competitive.

‘However, we are concerned by the potential impact of some of the Budget proposals, particularly the increased interest rates on HELP loans,’ Ms Terry said.

‘This change, combined with the reduction in the government subsidy, may discourage students from disadvantaged backgrounds and mature-age students who already have financial commitments from pursuing university studies.’

Under the proposed changes, students will pay more for their degrees, face a higher interest rate on student debt and pay back their loans sooner.

From 2016, universities will be able to set their own tuition fees and students will have to repay loans after earning more than $50,638 a year.

The Federal Government is also increasing student loan interest rates by up to 6 per cent, instead of remaining at the rate of inflation.

Edith Cowan vice-chancellor Kerry Cox said the university would freeze fees for students who started university in 2014 to provide fairness and certainty.

‘While ECU will be carefully analysing the effects and opportunities from the Federal Budget for ECU’s strategic development and operations over coming weeks and months, it is promising to see that provision has been made for additional scholarships for disadvantaged students,’ he said.

‘ECU is committed to widening access to university to those from non-traditional backgrounds and we welcome measures that support this.’