Higher Education Reform Package - Student Overview

Page updated on 6 November 2017.

The 2017 Higher Education Reform Package

On 1 May 2017, the Australian Government announced a range of reforms to improve the higher education sector. These reforms affect many different aspects of study, from enrolment in different courses (including enabling, sub-bachelor and postgraduate courses), access to scholarships and loans, and repayment of HELP loans. The reforms will deliver a more sustainable sector, more choices for students and increase transparency and accountability in higher education. Some of these reforms may affect you, so please read the below information carefully.

Status update

The Higher Education Support Legislation Amendment (A More Sustainable, Responsive and Transparent Higher Education System) Bill 2017 was introduced to Parliament on 11 May 2017, and was referred to the Senate Standing Committee on Education and Employment for inquiry on the same day. Inquiry submissions closed on 8 June 2017, and the Senate Standing Committee released its report on 9 August 2017. If you would like to read the full report, it is available here.

The Bill remains in the Senate. The Government is currently considering options as reforming the higher education system remains a priority, both to maintain and enhance Australia’s world-class higher education sector, and to ensure future funding arrangements remain sustainable, in line with the reforms announced in the 2017-18 Budget. More information about the Bill is available here.

Improving the sustainability of higher education

The higher education sector will be more sustainable through changes to the sharing of costs between taxpayers and students, improvements to the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) and strengthening responsibility for recognising and rewarding quality learning and teaching.

More choice for students

The higher education sector will be more responsive to the aspirations of students and the needs of the future workforce. Incentives to deliver unnecessary qualifications or to maintain outmoded curriculum and course delivery methods will be replaced with mechanisms which ensure Commonwealth supported places provide better value to students and to the economy. Funding mechanisms to support universities enrolling students from low socio-economic backgrounds will also be reformed.

Increased transparency and accountability

The higher education sector will be more accountable – and more open to scrutiny – for the manner in which it expends taxpayer funding. The retention of a system that provides broad and uncapped access to higher education needs greater transparency to show that the institutions are making the right decisions about who to enrol and in what they are enrolling.

Need more information?

For more information on how these measures might affect you, visit the Higher Education Reform - Student FAQs page.

There are also dedicated factsheets on these measures available on the Student Budget Factsheets page.

For more detail on the individual measures, visit the Department of Education and Training Higher Education Reform Package webpage (opens in a new tab).