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May 15, 2017 | by  | in News Splash |
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Australian Tertiary Fees to Increase

The Australian Government is implementing a package of reforms to the higher education system which will see higher fees for New Zealand students in Australia.

After January 1, 2018, New Zealand citizens and Australian permanent residents will be taken off the subsidised Commonwealth Supported Place (CSP) plan, making them full fee-paying students.

The costs of study for these students would rise from approximately $7,000 per year to about $24,000.

However, these students will have access to student loans to help fund their studies, whereas under current rules they must meet specific criteria to gain student loans.

An Australian government document stated that about 20,000 New Zealanders and Australian permanent residents are currently enrolled in Australian institutions, and it estimated that wider access to student loans could encourage 60,000 more to enrol.

The change is part of a package of reforms to improve the “sustainability of higher education,” according to Australia’s Department of Education and Training.

In a statement, Australian Minister for Education Simon Birmingham said that the change “gets the balance of funding between students, universities and taxpayers right, is fundamentally fair, and ensures every Australian has the opportunity and support to study.”

The University of New South Wales’s Student Representative Council (SRC) condemned the changes.

SRC President Aislinn Stein-Magee said in a statement that “well-funded higher education is a public good that benefits Australian society.”

“Instead of investing in Australia’s future, Simon Birmingham and the Liberal Government have decided to threaten the quality of education in Australia and increase the financial burden on students.”

Prime Minister Bill English was taken by surprise at the announcement, and while he said he is “pretty unhappy” with the change, he ruled out implementing a similar measure in New Zealand, favouring “a discussion about where the policy is going” so that New Zealanders in Australia know “what future impacts there are likely to be.”

“We prefer to be in a situation where we have a positive relationship with Australia and Kiwis get a good deal in Australia — that’s better than mutual ‘armed war’ to see who can treat each other’s citizens worse.”

It is the third Australian policy in less than two years to impact New Zealanders, the others being the 2015 revocation of some ex-criminals’ visas, regardless of how long they had lived in Australia, and a change two weeks ago tightening citizenship law, raising applicants’ wait-times from one year to four years.

All three policies were introduced suddenly with minimal or no notice to the New Zealand government.

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