Senate

Higher Education Support Amendment (Job-Ready Graduates and Supporting Regional and Remote Students) Bill 2020

Supplementary Explanatory Memorandum relating to sheet RV130

(Circulated by the authority of the Minister for Education, the Honourable Dan Tehan MP)
Amendments in Sheet RV130 to be Moved on Behalf of the Government

OUTLINE

The Government amendments in Sheet RV130 will insert new provisions into the Higher Education Support Act 2003 (HESA) to support the reintroduction of:

·
a 10 per cent discount on up-front payments made by HECS-HELP students; and
·
the Student Learning Entitlement (SLE).

The Government amendments also correct a technical error in item 14 of Schedule 1 to the Bill, and extend the FEE-HELP loan fee exemption for undergraduate students to 30 June 2021.

Financial Impact

The Government amendments in Sheet RV130 to reintroduce the 10 per cent discount on up-front payments made by HECS-HELP students will cost approximately $187.9 million between 2020-21 and 2023-24 in fiscal balance terms, and $155.7 million over the same period in underlying cash terms.

The Government amendments in Sheet RV130 to reintroduce the SLE will have a negative financial impact between 2020-21 to 2023-24 of $2.0 million in both fiscal balance and underlying cash terms.

The Government amendments in Sheet RV130 to extend the FEE-HELP loan fee exemption for undergraduate students to 30 June 2021 will have a negative financial impact over four years from 2020-21 of $25.7 million in fiscal balance and $0.2 million in underlying cash terms.

The other amendments in Sheet RV130 will have no financial impact.

Proposed Government amendments

Sheet RV130 - upfront payment discount, Student Learning Entitlement, grandfathered Commonwealth contribution amount and FEE-HELP debts

Amendment (1) of Sheet RV130 amends clause 2 on page 2 of the Bill to add a new item 8A to the table which specifies that new Schedule 4A (Up-front payment discount) commences on 1 January 2021.

Amendment (2) of Sheet RV130 amends clause 2 on page 2 of the Bill to add a new item 8B to the table which specifies that new Schedule 4B (Student learning entitlement) commences on 1 January 2022.

Amendment (3) of Sheet RV130 amends item 14 of Schedule 1 to the Bill to replace the reference to '$13,500' with '$13,250' in item 5 of the table at new subsection 33-10(2).

Item 14 of Schedule 1 to the Bill replaces the table at section 33-10 of HESA, which specifies the current Commonwealth contribution amounts (CCAs) for each funding cluster, with two new tables that specify the new CCAs that will apply to the funding clusters from 1 January 2021 and the 'grandfathered Commonwealth contribution amounts' that will apply in respect of certain parts of funding clusters referred to as 'grandfathered funding cluster parts.' This reflects the redesign of the funding clusters that was announced as part of the Job-ready Graduates Package.

The grandfathered Commonwealth contribution amount included in the third column of item 5 of the table at new subsection 33-10(2) is currently $13,500. This amount should actually be $13,250 to be consistent with the new CCA for funding cluster two set out in the table at new subsection 33-10(1).

As such, an amendment to item 14 is required to correct this error.

Amendment (4) of Sheet RV130 inserts a new Schedule 4A (Up-front payment discount) after Schedule 4 to the Bill. Schedule 4A provides students who are eligible for HECS-HELP assistance with a 10 per cent discount when they pay a portion of their student contribution for a unit of study to their provider up-front. The Government provided a similar 10 per cent discount until 2017. The reintroduction of this discount will make it cheaper for Commonwealth supported students to study at university where they pay their tuition fees up-front, and will mean these students have less long term debt.

Item 1 of new Schedule 4A amends Subdivision 36-D (Conditions relating to student contribution amounts) to insert a new section 36-50 which specifies that a provider must not accept, from a person who is enrolled in a unit of study with the provider, and is entitled to HECS-HELP assistance for the unit, up-front payments in relation to the unit totalling more than 90 per cent of the person's student contribution amount for the unit. New section 36-50 will be a condition with which providers must comply in order to receive a grant under Part 2-2 of HESA. This means that a provider that breaches this condition may be subject to compliance action under Subdivision 22-B of HESA.

Item 2 of new Schedule 4A replaces paragraph 90-1(f) with a new paragraph which provides that a person is eligible for HECS-HELP assistance for a unit of study if they either meet the tax file number requirements under section 187-1, or if they pay, as one or more up-front payments in relation to the unit, 90 per cent of their student contribution amount for the unit.

Items 3 and 4 of new Schedule 4A amend section 93-15 to reflect the reintroduction of the up-front payment discount. Item 3 makes a minor amendment to subsection 93-15(1) to clarify that an 'up-front payment', as defined under HESA, can now only be for part of the student's student contribution amount, as students who pay 90 per cent of their tuition fees no longer have to pay the remaining 10 per cent (which will be paid by the Commonwealth).

Item 4 adds a new subsection 93-15(3) which specifies that a payment made in relation to a unit of study for which a person is liable to pay their student contribution amount is not an 'up-front payment' in relation to the unit to the extent that the payment, or if other such payments have already been made in relation to the unit, the sum of the payment and all of those other payments, exceeds 90 per cent of the person's student contribution amount for the unit.

Items 5 and 6 of new Schedule 4A amend section 96-1 to clarify that this section now only applies to students who make no up-front payments of their student contribution amount for a unit of study.

Item 7 of new Schedule 4A inserts new sections 96-2 and 96-3 after section 96-1.

New section 96-2 explains the arrangements for students who make a partial up-front payment of their student contribution amount for a unit of study. The effect of new section 96-2 is that, where a student makes an up-front payment to their provider of more than $500 for one or more of their units of study, the Commonwealth will pay the provider 10 per cent of the student's student contribution amount for the unit or units, and will lend the student, as a HECS-HELP loan, the remainder of the student contribution amount.

New subsection 96-2(1) provides that the Commonwealth must pay the amount of HECS-HELP assistance for a unit of study in accordance with new subsections 96-2(3) and (4), if:

a)
a student is entitled to an amount of HECS-HELP assistance for the unit of study in which the student is enrolled with a higher education provider; and
b)
one or more up-front payments have been made in relation to the relevant unit; and
c)
both of the following apply:

i.
the amount of that up-front payment, or the sum of those up-front payments, is less than 90 per cent of the student's student contribution amount for the relevant unit;
ii.
the amount of that up-front payment, or the sum of those up-front payments, is $500 or more; and

d)
either:

i.
the student is not enrolled with a provider as a Commonwealth supported student in relation to any other units of study that have the same census date as the relevant unit; or
ii.
if the student is so enrolled in relation to one or more such other units of study, no up-front payments have been made for any of those units.

This new subsection clarifies the arrangements for students who are only enrolled in one unit of study and make partial up-front payments of their student contribution for that unit to their provider. It is important to note that a student will only get the benefit of the 10 per cent discount if they make an up-front payment for the unit of $500 or more.

New subsection 96-2(2) provides that the Commonwealth must pay the amount of HECS-HELP assistance for a unit of study in accordance with new subsections 96-2(3) and (4), if:

a)
a student is entitled to an amount of HECS-HELP assistance for a unit of study in which the student is enrolled with a higher education provider; and
b)
one or more up-front payments have been made in relation to the relevant unit; and
c)
the student is enrolled with the provider as a Commonwealth supported student in relation to one or more other units of study that have the same census date as the relevant unit; and
d)
one or more up-front payments have been made in relation to one or more of those other units; and
e)
both of the following apply:

i.
the sum of the up-front payments made in relation to the relevant unit and those other units is less than 90 per cent of the sum of the student's student contribution amounts for the relevant unit and those other units;
ii.
the sum of the up-front payments made in relation to the relevant unit and those other units is $500 or more.

This new subsection clarifies the arrangements for students who are enrolled in more than one unit of study and make partial up-front payments of their student contribution for the units to their provider. It is important to note that a student will only get the benefit of the 10 per cent discount if they make an up-front payment for their units of $500 or more.

New subsection 96-2(3) provides that the Commonwealth must:

a)
as a benefit to the student, lend to the student an amount equal to the difference between the amount of HECS-HELP assistance for the relevant unit and the HECS-HELP discount for the relevant unit; and
b)
pay to the provider the amount lent in discharge of that amount of the student's liability to pay the student's student contribution amount for the relevant unit.

New subsection 96-2(4) provides that the Commonwealth must, as a benefit to the student, pay to the provider an amount equal to the 'HECS-HELP discount' for the relevant unit in discharge of that amount of the student's liability to pay the student's student contribution amount for the relevant unit.

The 'HECS-HELP discount' for a unit is defined in new subsection 96-2(5) as an amount equal to one-ninth of the up-front payment, or the sum of all of the up-front payments made, in relation to the unit.

The example provided below new subsection 96-2(5) explains how this provision works.

New section 96-3 explains the arrangements for students who make a full up-front payment of their student contribution amount for a unit of study. This section provides that the Commonwealth must, as a benefit to the student, pay to the provider the amount of HECS-HELP assistance for a unit of study in discharge of that amount of the student's liability to pay the student's student contribution amount for the unit, if:

a)
the student is entitled to an amount of HECS-HELP assistance for a unit of study in which the student is enrolled with a higher education provider; and
b)
one or more up-front payments have been made in relation the unit; and
c)
the amount of that up-front payment, or the sum of those up-front payments, is equal to 90 per cent of the student's student contribution amount for the unit.

The note under this new section clarifies that the student does not incur a HECS-HELP debt in relation to the amount of HECS-HELP assistance paid by the Commonwealth to the provider under section 96-3. If a student pays 90 per cent of their student contribution amount for a unit of study up-front under this provision, they will not incur a HECS-HELP debt in relation to the relevant unit of study.

Item 8 of new Schedule 4A makes a consequential amendment to subsection 137-5(1) to include a reference to new section 96-2.

Item 9 of new Schedule 4A amends paragraph 193-1(5)(b) to replace the reference to a student paying 100 per cent of their student contribution amount for a unit up-front with a reference to 90 per cent, as the most a student can now pay up-front is 90 per cent.

Item 10 of new Schedule 4A amends paragraph 193-5(1)(d) to include a reference to the student paying 90 per cent of their student contribution amount up-front for a unit of study, as the most a student can now pay up-front is 90 per cent.

Item 11 of new Schedule 4A includes a new definition of 'HECS-HELP discount' in subclause 1(1) of Schedule 1 of HESA, which refers to the definition in new subsection 96-2(5).

Item 12 of new Schedule 4A provides that the amendments made by Schedule 4A apply in relation to an up-front payment made in relation to a unit of study that has a census date on or after 1 January 2021.

Amendment (5) of Sheet RV130 inserts a new Schedule 4B after new Schedule 4A to the Bill. Schedule 4B reintroduces the Student Learning Entitlement (SLE) for Commonwealth supported students. A person's SLE will consist of (see new section 73-1 of Schedule 4B):

a)
the 'ordinary SLE' the person has - being the equivalent of 7 years of study;
b)
any 'additional SLE' the person has - being an extra amount of SLE a person has if they are enrolled in a course of study specified in the Student Learning Entitlement Guidelines (SLE Guidelines), and meets any other requirement specified in those Guidelines;
c)
any 'lifelong SLE' the person has - being an extra amount of SLE a person will have in the circumstances specified in the SLE Guidelines, and as worked out in accordance with those Guidelines.

Once a person has run out of SLE, they are no longer eligible to study in a Commonwealth supported place. Students in this situation could:

a)
continue to pay for their study using a FEE-HELP loan (if they are eligible and up to the maximum of their HELP balance); or
b)
pay their tuition fees up-front; or
c)
leave university to work until their SLE accrues to an amount where they can study again.

The reintroduction of the SLE will improve access to higher education for people who have never been to university before by ensuring that more students are encouraged to take up jobs, freeing up spaces for these new students.

Item 1 of new Schedule 4B amends section 3-10 of HESA to specify that Chapter 3 of HESA also deals with a person's SLE.

Item 2 of new Schedule 4B amends subsection 36-10(1) to include a new paragraph (d) which specifies that a provider must not advise a person that they are a Commonwealth supported student in relation to a unit of study unless the unit is covered by the person's SLE (with the exception of units of study undertaken as part of an enabling course). This new provision will be a condition with which providers must comply in order to receive a grant under Part 2-2 of HESA. This means that a provider who breaches this condition may be subject to compliance action under Subdivision 22-B of HESA.

Item 3 of new Schedule 4B amends subsection 36-20(3) to clarify that section 36-20 does not apply to a provider if new section 36-24BA (see item 4) applies in relation to the provider in relation to the unit.

Item 4 inserts new section 36-24BA which requires a provider to repay amounts when a person's SLE amount is re-credited in special circumstances. New subsection 36-24BA(1) specifies that section 36-26BA only applies if a person has been enrolled as a Commonwealth supported student with a higher education provider in a unit of study, and the person's SLE amount has been re-credited under section 79-1 with an amount equal to the EFTSL value of the unit.

New subsection 36-24BA(2) requires the provider to:

a)
pay to the person an amount equal to the payment, or the sum of the payments, that the person made in relation to the person's student contribution amount for the unit; and
b)
pay to the Commonwealth an amount equal to any HECS-HELP assistance to which the person was entitled for the unit,

if there has been an SLE re-credit under section 79-1.

Item 5 amends section 65-1 to update the outline of Chapter 3 to include a reference to the SLE being set out in new Part 3-1.

Item 6 inserts a new Part 3-1 before Part 3-2 of HESA. New Part 3-1 sets out the details of the SLE.

New section 70-1 provides a summary of new Part 3-1.

New section 70-5 provides that the SLE is also dealt with in the SLE Guidelines, which are made by the Minister under section 238-10.

New subsection 73-1(1) describes that a person's SLE consists of their 'ordinary SLE,' any 'additional SLE' they have, and any 'lifelong SLE' they have.

New subsection 73-1(2) specifies that a person's 'SLE amount' at a particular time is the sum of the following amounts:

a)
the amount of ordinary SLE that the person has under subsection 73-5(3);
b)
the amount of any additional SLE that the person has under subsection 73-10(3); and
c)
the amount of any lifelong SLE that the person has under subsection 73-15(3);

taking into account any reduction that has occurred before that time under Division 76 and any re-crediting that has occurred before that time under amount Division 79.

New section 73-5 describes when a person has 'ordinary SLE'. Subsection 73-5(1) provides that, if a person is an eligible person on 1 January 2022, the person has, on that day, ordinary SLE. Subsection 73-5(2) provides that, if a person becomes (by birth or otherwise) an eligible person on a day after 1 January 2022, the person has, on the earliest such day, ordinary SLE. An 'eligible person' is an Australian citizen, a citizen of New Zealand, or a permanent visa holder (see new subsection 73-5(4)).

Subsection 73-5(3) provides that the amount of ordinary SLE that the person has on the day referred to in subsections 73-5(1) or (2) (as the case may be) is an amount equal to 7 EFTSL.

New section 73-10 describes when a person has 'additional SLE'. Subsection 73-10(1) provides that a person has additional SLE if:

a)
the person is enrolled in a course of study with a higher education provider; and
b)
the course is specified, or is a course of a kind specified, in the SLE Guidelines for the purposes of paragraph 73-10(1)(b); and
c)
the person meets any other requirements specified in the SLE Guidelines.

The person has additional SLE on the day that the person enrols in the course of study (see subsection 73-10(2)), and the amount of additional SLE a person has is worked out in accordance with the SLE Guidelines (see new subsection 73-10(3)).

New section 73-15 describes when a person has 'lifelong SLE.' Subsection 73-15(1) provides that a person has lifelong SLE in the circumstances specified in the SLE Guidelines. The person has lifelong SLE on the day specified in the SLE Guidelines (see new subsection 73-15(2)), and the amount of lifelong SLE a person has is worked out in accordance with the SLE Guidelines (see new subsection 73-15(3)).

New section 73-20 provides that a person's SLE cannot be transferred to, or used by, another person.

New section 73-25 describes when a person ceases to be an eligible person. Subsection 73-25(1) provides that a person ceases to have an SLE if the person ceases to be an eligible person. Subsection 73-25(2) goes on to provide that, if a person who ceased to be an eligible person at a particular time becomes an eligible person at a later time, the person has, at that later time, the same SLE amount (if any) that the person had at the cessation time.

New section 76-1 describes how a person's SLE amount is reduced.

Subsection 76-1(1) provides that a higher education provider must, on behalf of the Secretary of the Department of Education, Skills and Employment (Department), reduce a person's SLE amount at a particular time if:

a)
the person enrolled in a unit of study as part of a course of study with the provider; and
b)
at the end of the census date for the unit, the person remained so enrolled; and
c)
the person is a Commonwealth supported student in relation to the unit; and
d)
the unit is not:

i.
an ineligible work experience unit for the person; or
ii.
a replacement unit; and

e)
the person has, on or before the census date for the unit, completed, signed and given to an appropriate officer of the provider a request for Commonwealth assistance in relation to:

i.
the unit; or
ii.
where the course of study of which the unit forms a part is undertaken with the provider-the course of study.

Subsection 76-1(2) provides that the amount of the reduction is an amount equal to the EFTSL value of the unit of study.

Subsection 76-1(3) provides that the reduction takes effect immediately after the census date for the unit of study.

Subsection 76-1(4) provides that, if a higher education provider reduces a person's SLE amount at a particular time under subsection 76-1(1), the provider must, in accordance with the SLE Guidelines and on the Secretary's behalf, reduce any one or more of the following amounts to take account of the reduction under that subsection:

a)
an amount of ordinary SLE (if any) that the person has at that time;
b)
an amount of additional SLE (if any) that the person has at that time; and
c)
an amount of lifelong SLE (if any) that the person has at that time.

Subsection 76-1(5) provides that, if a higher education provider is unable to act for the purposes of subsections 76-1(1) or (4), the Secretary may act as if any one or more of the references in that subsection to the provider were a reference to the Secretary.

New Subdivision 79-A describes the provider's obligations in relation to re-crediting a person's SLE amount if special circumstances apply to the person.

Subsection 79-1(1) provides that a higher education provider must, on the Secretary's behalf, re-credit a person's SLE amount at a particular time with an amount equal to the EFTSL value of a unit of study if:

a)
the person has been enrolled in the unit with the provider; and
b)
the unit would, if completed, form part of a course of study undertaken with that provider or another higher education provider; and
c)
the unit is not:

i.
an ineligible work experience unit for the person; or
ii.
a replacement unit; and

d)
the person has not completed the requirements for the unit during the period during which the person undertook, or was to undertake, the unit; and
e)
one or more up-front payments have been made in relation to the unit and the amount of that payment, or the sum of those payments, is equal to 90 per cent of the person's student contribution amount for the unit; and
f)
the provider is satisfied that special circumstances apply to the person (see section 79-5); and
g)
the person applies, in writing, to the provider for the re-crediting of the person's SLE amount; and
h)
either:

i.
the application is made before the end of the application period for the application under section 79-10; or
ii.
the provider waives the requirement that the application be made before the end of that period on the ground that it would not be, or was not, possible for the application to be made before the end of that period.

Subsection 79-1(2) provides that, if a higher education provider re-credits a person's SLE amount at a particular time under subsection 79-1(1), the provider must, in accordance with the SLE Guidelines and on the Secretary's behalf, re-credit any one or more of the following amounts to take account of the re-credit under that subsection:

a)
an amount of ordinary SLE (if any) that the person has at that time;
b)
an amount of additional SLE (if any) that the person has at that time; and
c)
an amount of lifelong SLE (if any) that the person has at that time.

Subsection 79-1(3) provides that, if a higher education provider is unable to act for any one or more of the purposes of subsections 79-1(1) or (2), or sections 79-5, 79-10 or 79-15, the Secretary may act as if any one or more of the references in those provisions to the provider were a reference to the Secretary.

New section 79-5 describes when special circumstances apply to a person.

Subsection 79-5(1) provides that, for the purposes of paragraph 79-1(1)(f), special circumstances apply to a person who made an application under paragraph 79-1(1)(g) if, and only if, the higher education provider receiving the application is satisfied that circumstances apply to the person that:

a)
are beyond the person's control; and
b)
do not make their full impact on the person until on or after the census date for the unit of study in question; and
c)
make it impracticable for the person to complete the requirements for the unit in the period during which the person undertook, or was to undertake, the unit.

Subsection 79-5(2) provides that the SLE Guidelines may specify circumstances in which a higher education provider will be satisfied of a matter referred to in paragraph 79-5(1)(a), (b) or (c). A decision of a higher education provider under this section must be in accordance with any such guidelines.

New section 79-10 sets out the application period for applications made under paragraph 79-1(1)(g).

Subsection 79-10(1) provides that, if:

a)
the person who applied under paragraph 79-1(1)(g) for the re-crediting of the person's SLE amount with an amount equal to the EFTSL value of a unit of study has withdrawn the person's enrolment in the unit with a higher education provider; and
b)
the provider gives notice to the person that the withdrawal has taken effect;

the application period for the application is the period of 12 months after the day specified in the notice as the day the withdrawal takes effect.

Subsection 79-10(2), provides that, if subsection 79-10(1) does not apply, the application period for an application made under paragraph 79-1(1)(g) is the period of 12 months after the end of the period during which the applicant undertook, or was to undertake, the unit of study.

New section 79-15 sets out the requirements for dealing with applications.

Subsection 79-15(1) provides that, if:

a)
an application is made to a higher education provider under paragraph 79-1(1)(g) before the end of the application period for the application under section 79-10; or
b)
a higher education provider waives the requirement that an application made to the provider under that paragraph be made before the end of that period on the ground that it would not be, or was not, possible for the application to be made before the end of that period;

the provider must, as soon as practicable, consider the application and notify the applicant of the decision on the application.

Subsection 79-15(2) provides that the notice must include a statement of the reasons for the decision.

New Subdivision 79-B describes the provider's obligations in relation to re-crediting a person's SLE amount if the person's HELP balance is re-credited.

Subsection 79-20(1) provides that a higher education provider must, on the Secretary's behalf, re-credit a person's SLE amount at a particular time with an amount equal to the EFTSL value of a unit of study if the person's HELP balance is re-credited under any of the following provisions with an amount equal to the amount of HECS-HELP assistance that the person received for the unit of study:

a)
subsection 97-25(2) (which deals with the main case of re-crediting a person's HELP balance);
b)
subsection 97-27(1) (which deals with the re-crediting of a person's HELP balance if the person does not have a tax file number);
c)
subsection 97-42(1) (which deals with the re-crediting of a person's HELP balance if a higher education provider defaults);
d)
subsection 97-45(1) (which deals with the re-crediting of a person's HELP balance if a higher education provider completes a request for Commonwealth assistance); and
e)
subsection 97-50(1) (which deals with the re-crediting of a person's HELP balance if the person was not entitled to assistance).

Subsection 79-20(2) provides that, if a higher education provider re-credits a person's SLE amount at a particular time under subsection 79-20(1), the provider must, in accordance with the SLE Guidelines and on the Secretary's behalf, re-credit any one or more of the following amounts to take account of the re-credit under that subsection:

a)
an amount of ordinary SLE (if any) that the person has at that time;
b)
an amount of additional SLE (if any) that the person has at that time; and
c)
an amount of lifelong SLE (if any) that the person has at that time.

Subsection 79-20(3) provides that, if a higher education provider is unable to act for the purposes of subsection 79-20(1) or (2), the Secretary may act as if any one or more of the references in that subsection to the provider were a reference to the Secretary.

New section 82-1 describes when a unit of study is covered by a person's SLE, where the person's SLE is not exceeded at enrolment.

Subsection 82-1(1) relates to a situation where a person is enrolled in one unit of study only. This new subsection provides that a unit of study is covered by a person's SLE if:

a)
the person enrolled in the unit (the relevant unit ) as a part of a course of study with a higher education provider; and
b)
at the time of that enrolment, the person had not enrolled in any other units of study as a part of that course, or as a part of another course of study, with that provider or with another higher education provider that have census dates that will occur after that time; and
c)
the EFTSL value of the relevant unit does not exceed the person's SLE amount as at that time; and
d)
if:

i.
the person's SLE amount as at that time includes an amount of additional SLE in relation to a particular course of study; and
ii.
the EFTSL value of the relevant unit exceeds the amount worked out by subtracting that amount of additional SLE from the person's SLE amount as at that time;

the person enrolled in the relevant unit as a part of that particular course of study.

Subsection 82-1(2) relates to a situation where a person is enrolled in more than one unit of study. This new subsection provides that a unit of study is covered by a person's SLE if:

a)
the person enrolled in the unit (the relevant unit ) as a part of a course of study with a higher education provider; and
b)
at the time of that enrolment, the person had also enrolled in one or more other units of study as a part of that course, or as a part of another course of study, with that provider or with another higher education provider; and
c)
those other units have census dates that will occur after that time; and
d)
the person is a Commonwealth supported student in relation to each of those other units; and
e)
the sum of the following does not exceed the person's SLE amount as at that time:

i.
the EFTSL value of the relevant unit;
ii.
the sum of the EFTSL values of each of those other units; and

f)
if:

i.
the person's SLE amount as at that time includes an amount of additional SLE in relation to a particular course of study; and
ii.
the EFTSL value of the relevant unit exceeds the amount worked out by subtracting that amount of additional SLE from the person's SLE amount as at that time;

the person enrolled in the relevant unit as a part of that particular course of study.

New section 82-5 describes when a unit of study is covered by a person's SLE, where the person's SLE is exceeded at enrolment.

Subsection 82-5(1) provides that section 82-5 applies if:

a)
the person enrolled in unit of study (the relevant unit ) as a part of a course of study with a higher education provider (the relevant provider ); and
b)
at the time of that enrolment (the enrolment time ), the person had also enrolled in one or more other units of study as a part of that course, or as a part of another course of study, with the relevant provider or with another higher education provider; and
c)
those other units have census dates that will occur after the enrolment time; and
d)
the person is a Commonwealth supported student in relation to each of those other units; and
e)
the sum of the following exceeds the person's SLE amount as at the enrolment time:

i.
the EFTSL value of the relevant unit;
ii.
the sum of the EFTSL values of each of those other units.

Subsection 82-5(2) provides that the relevant unit (as described in subsection 82-5(1)) is covered by a person's SLE if:

a)
the person notifies an appropriate officer of the relevant provider that the person does not wish to be a Commonwealth supported student in relation to one or more of those other units of study (the excluded units ); and
b)
the sum of the following does not exceed the person's SLE amount as at the enrolment time:

i.
the EFTSL value of the relevant unit;
ii.
the sum of the EFTSL values of each of those other units that are not excluded units; and

c)
if:

i.
the person's SLE amount as at that time includes an amount of additional SLE in relation to a particular course of study; and
ii.
the EFTSL value of the relevant unit exceeds the amount worked out by subtracting that amount of additional SLE from the person's SLE amount as at that time;

the person enrolled in the relevant unit as a part of that particular course of study.

Subsection 82-5(3) provides that a notice under paragraph 82-5(2)(a) must be given in writing, and on or before the census date for the relevant unit.

Items 7 and 8 of new Schedule 4B amend subsections 169-5(4) and 169-10(5) to include a reference to a person's SLE. These are consequential amendments required as a result the other amendments being made by Schedule 4B.

Item 9 of new Schedule 4B amends section 206-1 to include the following new reviewable decisions in the table:

a)
a refusal to re-credit a person's SLE amount with an amount equal to the EFTSL value of a unit of study under subsection 79-1(1) (new table item 1BA); and
b)
a refusal to re-credit one or more of the amounts referred to in paragraphs 79-1(2)(a), (b) and (c) to take account of a re-credit of a person's SLE amount under subsection 79-1(1) (new table item 1BB).

Item 10 of new Schedule 4B makes a consequential amendment to the first note at subsection 206-1 to include a reference to the new table items 1BA and 1BB.

Item 11 of new Schedule 4B amends the table at subsection 238-10(1) to include a new table item for the SLE Guidelines. This change gives the Minister the power to make the SLE Guidelines.

Item 12 of new Schedule 4B amends subclause 1(1) of Schedule 1 of HESA to include new definitions of the following terms:

a)
'additional SLE';
b)
'covered by a person's Student Learning Entitlement';
c)
'eligible person';
d)
'lifelong SLE';
e)
'ordinary SLE';
f)
'SLE amount'; and
g)
'Student Learning Entitlement'.

Item 13 sets out the application provisions for these amendments.

Subitem 13(1) provides that the amendments made by items 2, 3 and 4 of new Schedule 4B apply in relation to a unit of study that has a census date that is on or after 1 January 2022 (whether the unit of study is part of a course of study commenced before, on or after that day).

Subitem 13(2) provides that Divisions 76, 79 and 82 of HESA, as inserted by new Schedule 4B, apply in relation to a unit of study that has a census date that is on or after 1 January 2022 (whether the unit of study is part of a course of study commenced before, on or after that day).

Amendment (6) of Sheet RV130 inserts new items 9A and 9B after item 9 in Part 2 of Schedule 5 of the Bill.

Undergraduate students who study at higher education providers other than Table B providers, and obtain a FEE-HELP loan to pay their tuition fees for a unit of study, currently have to pay a 25 per cent loan fee. As part of the Government's Higher Education Relief Package in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government provided relevant students with an exemption from the requirement to pay the loan fee for units of study with census dates between 1 April and 30 September 2020. To give effect to this change, paragraph 137-10(b) was amended through the Education Legislation Amendment (2020 Measures No. 1) Act 2020.

The Government has made the decision, as part of the 2020-21 Budget, to extend this exemption from the requirement to pay the loan fee for a further period ending on 30 June 2021.

New item 9A amends subparagraph 137-10(2)(b)(i) of HESA to give effect to this change.

In the Bill, it was also proposed that the FEE-HELP loan fee applicable under paragraph 137-10(b) of HESA be reduced from 25 per cent to 20 per cent from 1 January 2021 (see item 16 of Schedule 5 of the Bill). Noting that the exemption from the requirement to pay the loan fee will now end on 30 June 2021, the Bill needs to be amended to reflect this change. New item 9B does this by amending proposed new subparagraph 137-10(2)(b)(ia) to provide that, for a unit of study with a census date on or after 1 July 2021, the relevant student's FEE-HELP loan is an amount equal to 120 per cent of the loan.

These new amendments will commence the day after the Bill receives the Royal Assent.

Amendment (7) of Sheet RV130 removes item 16 of Part 3 of Schedule 5 to the Bill (which currently specifies when the FEE-HELP loan fee will be reduced from 25 per cent to 20 per cent). Item 16 is no longer required as the relevant provision (proposed new subparagraph 137-10(2)(b)(ia)) is being replaced by the new subparagraph in item 9B.