Explanatory MemorandumCirculated By Authority of the Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Jobs and Workplace Relations
The main purpose of this Bill is to implement 2011-12 Budget measures and update maximum payment amounts to provide for increases in enrolments of Commonwealth supported students and indexation. The Bill also clarifies the Government's policy in relation to eligibility for Commonwealth supported places and the Higher Education Loans Program (HELP) for Australian citizens studying primarily at overseas campuses of Australian providers.
Schedule 1 amends sections 30-5, 41-45 and 46-40 of the Higher Education Support Act 2003 (HESA) to increase the maximum payments for the Commonwealth Grant Scheme in 2011, and for other grants and Commonwealth scholarships for the
2012-14 calendar years to account for indexation and to include the 2015 calendar year.
Schedule 2 amends HESA to provide for a reduction in the HECS-HELP up-front discount from 20 per cent to 10 per cent. This discount is paid for up-front student contribution payments of $500 or more.
Schedule 3 amends HESA to provide for a reduction in the HELP voluntary repayment bonus from 10 per cent to 5 per cent. This bonus reduces a person's HELP debt when the person makes a voluntary payment of $500 or more.
Schedule 4 amends HESA to clarify that Australian citizens are not entitled to Commonwealth support or to access HECS-HELP, FEE-HELP and VET FEE-HELP schemes when they are undertaking a course of study primarily at an overseas campus.
Application, savings and transitional provisions will:
- provide 1 January 2012 as the principal date from which providers and the Commonwealth will be subject to the new provisions (although some provisions will commence on Royal Assent)
- provide that the amendments made by Schedule 2 apply only in relation to units of study whose census dates are on or after commencement
- provide that the amendments made by Schedule 3 apply only in relation to payments made on or after commencement
- provide that the amendments made by Schedule 4 apply only in relation to units of study whose census dates are on or after commencement
- maintain the eligibility of students studying at overseas campuses of Australian providers for the duration of their current courses for the following:
- Commonwealth support under the Commonwealth Grant Scheme
- HECS-HELP assistance
- FEE-HELP assistance
- VET FEE-HELP assistance.