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House of Representatives

Higher Education Legislation Amendment (Miscellaneous Measures) Bill 2015

Higher Education Legislation Amendment (Miscellaneous Measures) Act 2015

Explanatory Memorandum

(Circulated by authority of the Minister for Education and Training,Senator the Honourable Simon Birmingham)

Outline

Schedule 1 of the Bill will allow certain New Zealand citizens who are Special Category Visa holders to be eligible for Higher Education Loan Programme (HELP) assistance from 1 January 2016. Schedule 1 extends access to HELP to a specific group of New Zealand citizens who have been long-term residents of Australia since childhood.

Schedule 2 will amend the list of Table B providers in section 16-20 of the Higher Education Support Act 2003 (HESA) to enable Torrens University Australia to be eligible for equivalent funding support as all other private Australian universities, including research block grant funding under Part 2-3 (such as the Research Training Scheme and the Sustainable Research Excellence in Universities Scheme) and postgraduate research Commonwealth scholarships funding under Part 2-4.

Schedule 3 will update the name of the University of Ballarat to Federation University Australia to recognise the passage of the University of Ballarat Amendment (Federation University Australia) Act 2013 by the Victorian Parliament.

Schedule 4 inserts a provision that confirms the relevant heads of constitutional power that Part 2-3 (Other Grants) of HESA relies upon, in addition to the effect that Part 2-3 otherwise has.

Schedule 5 makes consequential amendments to corporate reporting requirements under the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency Act 2011 following passage of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act).

Schedule 6 amends the Australian Research Council Act 2001 (ARC Act) to apply indexation against appropriations for existing schemes and includes additional forward estimate amounts for the financial years starting on 1 July 2017 and 1 July 2018. The amendments are essential as the ARC Act is the legislative basis that supports the financial operations of ARC grants programmes through special appropriation mechanisms which must occur each financial year. These programmes fund the high-quality research needed to address current challenges, support improved quality of life, and to support Australian businesses to become more innovative and remain competitive in the global knowledge economy.

Schedule 6 also repeals Division 1 of Part 6 of the ARC Act to remove the requirement for the ARC to prepare corporate plans, as section 35 of the PGPA Act now requires the ARC to prepare and publish corporate plans in accordance with the Rule made under the PGPA Act.

The amendments do not alter the substance of the ARC Act or increase departmental funds.


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