Aus­tralian univer­sity, vo­ca­tional train­ing debts to sky­rocket cost­ing bud­get bil­lions

Fiji Sun - - World News -

Can­berra: The Aus­tralian Federal Gov­ern­ment is pre­par­ing to write off bil­lions of dol­lars of higher ed­u­ca­tion loans as the num­ber of bad debts soar. An ABC Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion (FOI) in­ves­ti­ga­tion has re­vealed the Gov­ern­ment is fore­cast­ing losses of more than AU$13.5 bil­lion (FJ$21.35bn) on just four years’ worth of loans. The fig­ures come af­ter the Gov­ern­ment recom­mit­ted to univer­sity fund­ing cuts and fee dereg­u­la­tion.

The Coali­tion is also con­sid­er­ing changes to the scan­dal-plagued vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion sec­tor, which is help­ing fuel the bleak fis­cal pre­dic­tions. “The costs to tax­pay­ers of higher ed­u­ca­tion have, over re­cent years, grown dra­mat­i­cally,” Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Si­mon Birm­ing­ham said. The HELP loan sys­tem, in­clud­ing for univer­sity courses and vo­ca­tional train­ing, al­lows stu­dents to de­fer course pay­ments and sub­sidises the in­ter­est rate on debt. The amount never to be re­paid on loans is­sued in 2018-19 is pre­dicted to ex­ceed AU$4.4 bil­lion (FJ$6.96bn) — a bud­get hit nearly four times higher than ex­pected from loans is­sued last fi­nan­cial year. “Fund­ing of univer­sity stu­dents has es­sen­tially grown at twice the rate of the econ­omy,” Se­na­tor Birm­ing­ham said.

“I wel­come all ideas from the sec­tor, ex­perts and stu­dents on how to make univer­sity fund­ing sus­tain­able as I con­tinue to con­sult widely on higher ed­u­ca­tion re­form.” ABC

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