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COPHE Fully Supports Min Pyne's Latest Plan

Minister Pyne Tenaciously Pursues Path to Equity

COPHE (the Council for Private Higher Education) fully supports Education Minister Christopher Pyne’s latest move to help the Higher Education and Research Reform Bill pass through the Senate.

COPHE CEO Adrian McComb said separating the 20 per cent reduction to the Commonwealth Grants Scheme funding into a separate Bill to be debated at a later time proved that increasing equity continued to be a top priority for the Minister.

“This is a significant development which we fully endorse,” Mr McComb said.

“All the positive aspects of the previous Bill have been retained, so without the distraction of the change to university funding, we hope the Senators can clearly see that this legislation opens the door to equity and opportunity,” Mr McComb said.

 "There is no viable alternative for these reforms. Keeping things are they are is blatantly unfair to non-university higher education students and leaves Australia’s entire higher education sector in a poor position to respond to the avalanche of change that has been triggered by globalisation and technological innovation.”

The amended Bill increases educational opportunities available to students who need pathways to qualify for university or sub-degree qualifications to prepare them for jobs. It does this with two key equity measures: by ending the 25 per cent loan fee paid by non-university students and allowing for these students to receive a Government subsidy towards their fees for the first time. If the reforms are passed, students from TAFE and private providers will receive 70 per cent of the subsidy that public university students receive.

“In our submission to the Senate last year, COPHE indicated that our Members would pass on to students the Commonwealth support received through the implementation of these reforms,” Mr McComb said. “That would mean an instant reduction on current fees plus a 25 per cent reduction on their total loan due to the elimination of the student loan administration fee.”

“These changes will bring the significant opportunities offered at non-university institutions within the reach of more students, increasing equity, choice and diversity in Australia’s higher education sector,” Mr McComb said.

Currently about 10 per cent of higher education students are in the non-university sector, attracted by the flexible and specialist courses, smaller classes, teaching-focused lecturers and industry links. The same national regulator, TEQSA (Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency), accredits all higher education institutions, including universities.

“Most of the reforms proposed in the legislation have been raised in the recommendations of multiple reviews since as far back as the late eighties – it is time to stop inquiring and talking and to take action for a more sustainable and equitable system,” Mr McComb said.

 Media Inquires - Adrian McComb; Email: amccomb@cophe.edu.au.

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