The Innovative Research Universities (IRU):
- opposes the government’s plan to levy a higher education provider charge
- accepts, but does not endorse, levying an application fee for providers wishing to access FEE-HELP.
If the Parliament passes the legislation now before it, the proposed charging scheme, as set out in the Cost Recovery Implementation Statement, provides a viable model to distribute estimated expenses according to the main drivers of that expenditure.
Why the higher education provider charge is not cost recovery
The ostensible reason for the higher education provider charge is to recover the cost to Government of providing HECS-HELP and FEE-HELP. The schemes to assist students study out of Australia (OS-HELP) and to pay the student services chare (SA-HELP) are not included.
Charging providers for students’ use of HECS-HELP and FEE-HELP avoids recovering costs from those who actually use the schemes – the students. This shows the fundamental error underlying the charge as proposed by the Government.
The Government – rightly – will not charge students directly for access to HELP. Yet it will, instead, penalise students by further reducing the resources universities and other higher education providers have to deliver students a good education. Since the charge is tied tightly to cost generators it involves several per student elements. This will have greater impact on universities and higher education providers with higher proportions of part time students.
The IRU members would not deny their students access to HELP nor does the IRU propose that students should pay to access HELP. Rather, as a Government program that reduces Government direct expenditures on higher education the Government should bear the cost.