This Senate inquiry examined the Higher Education and Research Reform Amendment Bill 2014, recommends it be passed, and makes several further recommendations.
On 28 August 2014 the Hon. Christopher Pyne, MP, introduced the Higher Education and Research Reform Amendment Bill 2014 (the bill) in the House of Representatives. On 4 September 2014 the Senate referred the provisions of the bill to the Senate Education and Employment Legislation Committee (the committee) for inquiry and report by 28 October 2014.
Details of the inquiry were made available on the committee's website. The committee also contacted a number of organisations inviting submissions to the inquiry. Submissions were received from 164 individuals and organisations.
The bill seeks to reform higher education in Australia by deregulating fees and extending funding to higher education qualifications below the bachelor degree level, as well as to private universities and non-university higher education providers. It is a reform package which aims to empower people through choice, and drive creativity and innovation in our higher education system by removing the stifling effects of excessive government control.
- Recommendation 1
The committee recommends that guidelines for the Commonwealth Scholarship Scheme seek to address some of the financial barriers faced by students from low SES backgrounds and regional communities in accessing higher education.
- Recommendation 2
The committee recommends that the government explore the provision of a structural adjustment package to assist certain sections of the higher education sector transition to a fully deregulated system.
- Recommendation 3
The committee recommends that the government examine HELP indexation measures in light of evidence presented to the committee, recognising unforseen impacts of the proposed reforms on students.
- Recommendation 4
The committee recommends that the government explore avenues to recover HELP debts of Australians residing overseas.
- Recommendation 5
The committee recommends that the bill be passed.