Australian university, vocational training debts to skyrocket costing budget billions
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