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Higher Education Support Amendment (Student Contribution Amounts and Other Measures) Bill 2012

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2010-2011-2012

 

 

 

 

THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HIGHER EDUCATION SUPPORT AMENDMENT (Student contribution amounts and other measures) Bill 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Circulated by authority of the Minister for Tertiary Education,

Skills, Science and Research)

 

 



HIGHER EDUCATION SUPPORT AMENDMENT (student contribution amounts and other measures) BILL 2012

 

OUTLINE

 

The purpose of the Bill is to increase the maximum student contribution amount for units of study in mathematics, statistics and science for all domestic students from 1 January 2013.  The Bill removes eligibility for Commonwealth supported places (CSPs) and the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) schemes for Australian citizens who do not intend to reside in Australia during their course. 

 

Items 1 to 7 in Schedule 1 amend the Higher Education Support Act 2003 (the Act) to increase the maximum student contribution amount for units of study in mathematics, statistics and science.  These amendments apply to units of study with census dates on or after 1 January 2013.

 

Items 1 to 5, 7 and 8 in Schedule 2 amend the Act to remove eligibility for CSPs and the HELP schemes for Australian citizens who commence a course of study after 1 January 2013 and who will not be resident in Australia for any of their course of study.  The amendments will affect Australian citizens who are living overseas and intend to study online with Australian providers.  Students undertaking study as part of a formal exchange or study abroad program for some of the units in their course will not be affected.

 

Item 6 in Schedule 2 amends the Act to remove eligibility for FEE-HELP for a unit of study, access to which was provided by Open Universities Australia, if the student was not resident in Australia on the day the student gave a request for Commonwealth assistance in relation to the unit.

 

Application provisions provide that:

·          The amendments made by items 1 to 7 in Schedule 1 apply in relation to units of study with census dates on or after 1 January 2013.

·          The amendments made by items 1 to 3 in Schedule 2 apply in relation to a unit of study that forms part of a course of study commenced by a person on or after 1 January 2013.

·          The amendments made by items 4 to 5 in Schedule 2 apply in relation to a unit of study that forms part of a course of study or bridging course for overseas trained professionals commenced by a person on or after 1 January 2013.

·          The amendment made by item 6 of Schedule 2 applies in relation to a unit of study with a census date or or after 1 January 2013.

·          The amendments made by items 7 and 8 in Schedule 2 apply in relation to a student services and amenities fee if the fee is payable on or after 1 January 2013 by a person who is enrolled in a course of study or bridging course for overseas trained professionals and the person commences the course of study on or after 1 January 2013.

 

 

 

 

 

FINANCIAL IMPACT

 

The amendments provide savings of $1 billion over four years (2012-16).

 

2012-13

2013-14

2014-15

2015-16

$129.55 m

$272.08 m

$301.49 m

$332.86 m

 

 



 

STATEMENT OF COMPATIBILITY WITH HUMAN RIGHTS

 

Prepared in accordance with Part 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011

 

This Bill is compatible with the human rights and freedoms recognised or declared in the international instruments listed in section 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011 .

 

Overview of the Bill

 

The Bill will amend the Higher Education Support Act 2003 to:

·          increase the maximum student contribution amount for units of study in mathematics, statistics and science for all domestic students from 1 January 2013; and

·          remove eligibility for Commonwealth supported places (CSPs) and the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) schemes for Australian citizens who will not be resident in Australia during their course. 

 

Human rights implication

 

Right to education

 

The Bill engages the right to education contained in Article 13 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

 

Schedule 1 of the Bill contains amendments that increase student contribution amounts for particular units of study.  These amendments appear to have an impact on a person’s access to education as the underlying policy allows a university to charge a student more for education.  However, these charges generally will not prohibit a person’s access to education as they may be deferred and re-paid through the HELP schemes.  HELP ensures that eligible students are not prevented from participating in higher education if they are unable to pay their tuition fees or student contribution amounts up-front.

 

Schedule 2 of the Bill contains amendments that remove eligibility for CSPs and the HELP schemes for Australian citizens who do not intend to reside in Australia during their course.  These amendments appear to have an impact on a person’s access to education.  Students who are currently studying overseas will continue to be eligible for the duration of their current course.

 

Conclusion

 

The Bill is compatible with human rights.  The amendments in the Bill are being made in a legislative framework which advances access to education.  To the extent that the Bill may have any adverse impact on a person’s access to education, the limitation is reasonable and for legitimate reasons.

 

 



HIGHER EDUCATION SUPPORT AMENDMENT (student contribution amounts and other measures) BILL 2012

 

 

NOTES ON CLAUSES

 

Clause 1 - Short title

 

Provides for the Act to be cited as the Higher Education Support Amendment (Student Contribution Amounts and Other Measures) Act 2012.

 

 

Clause 2 - Commencement

 

Provides that the Act commences on the day on which it receives Royal Assent, except for Schedule 2 which commences on 1 January 2013.

 

 

Clause 3 - Schedule(s)

 

Provides that each Act that is specified in a Schedule is amended or repealed as set out in the applicable items in the Schedule and that any other item in a Schedule has effect according to its terms.

 

 

Schedule 1— Student contribution amounts

 

Higher Education Support Act 2003

 

Items 1 to 7

 

Items 1 to 7 amend the table at subsection 93-10(1). This table sets the maximum student contribution amounts for places in units of study.

 

Items 1 to 3 amend column 2 in Item 3 of the table.  The Items repeal paragraph (c) and bring units in Mathematics or Statistics under paragraph (a).  The effect of the amendments made by Items 1 to 3 is that the maximum student contribution amount for a place in a unit of study in Mathematics or Statistics will no longer be a separate amount.  Instead the maximum student contribution amount for a place in a unit in Mathematics or Statistics will increase to the same indexed amount as a place in a unit in Computing, Built Environment or Other Health.

 

Items 4 to 7 amend column 2 in Item 7 of the table, consolidating paragraphs (a) and (b).  The effect of these amendments is that the maximum student contribution amount for a place in a unit of study in Science will no longer be a separate amount. Instead the maximum student contribution amount for a place in a unit in Science will increase to the same indexed amount as a place in a unit in Engineering or Surveying.

 

Item 8 - Application

Item 8 provides that the amendments made by items 1 to 7 of Schedule 1 shall apply in relation to a unit of study with a census date on or after 1 January 2013.

 

 

Schedule 2—Citizenship or residency requirements

 

Higher Education Support Act 2003

 

Items 1 to 8

 

Items 1 to 7 seek to restrict eligibility for Commonwealth supported places and Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) schemes to students completing their study predominantly within Australia.  This will affect Australian citizens who are living overseas and intend to study online with Australian providers.  The Government believes its funding priority should be to support those students who are most likely to pursue careers in Australia, commence repayment of their HELP debts, and use their education to benefit Australia’s workforce and economic needs.

 

Commonwealth supported student

 

Subsection 36-10(2B) prevents a New Zealand citizen or permanent visa holder from otherwise meeting the citizenship or residency requirements to be a Commonwealth supported student if a higher education provider reasonably expects that the person will not undertake in Australia any units of study which contribute to the course of study of which the unit forms a part.

 

Item 1 substitutes “paragraph (2)(b) or (c)” with “subsection (2)” in subsection 36-10(2B).  The effect of this amendment will be to extend the application of subsection 36-10(2B) to Australian citizens.

 

HECS-HELP assistance

 

Subsection 90-5(3) provides that a permanent humanitarian visa holder who would otherwise meet the citizenship or residency requirements for entitlement to HECS-HELP assistance does not meet these requirements in relation to a unit of study if the provider reasonably expects that the visa holder will not undertake in Australia any units of study contributing to the course of study of which the unit forms a part.

 

Items 2 and 3 substitute “ * permanent humanitarian visa holder” with “student” and substitute “the visa holder” with “the student” in subsection 90-5(3).  The effect of these amendments will be to prevent Australian citizens from meeting the citizenship or residency requirements, thereby disqualifying such students from receiving HECS-HELP assistance, if the student does not intend to undertake any units of study contributing to the course of study in Australia.

 

 

FEE-HELP assistance

 

Subsection 104-5(3) provides that a permanent humanitarian visa holder or permanent visa holder who would otherwise meet the citizenship or residency requirements for entitlement to FEE-HELP assistance does not meet these requirements in relation to a unit of study if the provider reasonably expects that the visa holder will not undertake in Australia any units of study contributing to the course of study, or the bridging course for overseas-trained professionals, of which the unit forms a part.

 

Items 4 and 5 substitute “ * permanent humanitarian visa holder or * permanent visa holder” with “student” and substitute “the visa holder” with “the student” in subsection 104-5(3).  The effect of these amendments will be to prevent Australian citizens from meeting the citizenship or residency requirements, thereby disqualifying such students from receiving FEE-HELP assistance, if the higher education provider reasonably expects the person will not undertake any of their course of study in Australia.

 

Item 6 inserts a new subsection (4) in section 104-5 to provide that a student does not meet the citizenship or residency requirements in relation to a unit of study to which access is provided by Open Universities Australia if the student is not resident in Australia on the day the student gives the request for Commonwealth assistance in relation to the unit to an appropriate officer of Open Universities Australia.

 

SA-HELP assistance

 

Subsection 126-5(2) provides that a permanent humanitarian visa holder who would otherwise meet the citizenship or residency requirements for entitlement to SA-HELP assistance does not meet these requirements in relation to a student services and amenities fee imposed on the visa holder by a higher education provider if the provider reasonably expects that the visa holder will not undertake in Australia any units of study with the provider.

 

Items 7 and 8 substitute “ * permanent humanitarian visa holder” with “student” and substitute all references to “the visa holder” with “the student” in subsection 126-5(2). The effect of these amendments will be to prevent Australian citizens from meeting the citizenship or residency requirements, thereby disqualifying such students from receiving SA-HELP assistance in respect of a student services and amenities fee imposed on a student, if the higher education provider reasonably expects the person will not undertake in Australia any units of study with the provider.

 

 

Item 9 - Application

Subitem (1) provides that the amendments made by items 1 to 3 of Schedule 2 (in relation to Commonwealth supported places and HECS-HELP assistance) shall only apply in relation to a unit of study that forms part of a course of study commenced by a person on or after 1 January 2013.

Subitem (2) provides that the amendments made by items 4 to 5 of Schedule 2 (in relation to FEE-HELP assistance) shall only apply in relation to a unit of study that forms part of a course of study or bridging course for overseas-trained professionals commenced by a person on or after 1 January 2013.

Subitem (3) provides that the amendment made by item 6 of Schedule 2 applies in relation to a unit of study with a census date on or after 1 January 2012.

Subitem (4) provides that the amendments made by items 7 and 8 of Schedule 2 (in relation to SA-HELP assistance) shall only apply in relation to a student services and amenities fee if the fee is payable on or after 1 January 2013 by a person enrolled in a course of study or bridging course for overseas-trained professionals and the person commences the course of study on or after 1 January 2013.