Home | Policy & Reform | 4.7% HECS increase: Relief promised in budget
Treasurer Jim Chalmers said university students can expect some relief in the 2024-35 budget to be announced May 14. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Christian Gilles

4.7% HECS increase: Relief promised in budget

Treasurer Jim Chalmers on Monday said the upcoming May 14 budget will consider providing relief for university student financial issues such as unpaid placements and disproportionately increasing HECS-HELP debts.

Latest inflation numbers released on Wednesday say HECS repayments will increase 4.7 per cent from June 1, the second highest increase in history. Indexation in 2021 rose just 0.6 per cent.

This means an average debt of $26,494 will increase by an extra $1,245.

It would also mean that for those who earn less than $65,000 a year, even after repayments, they will still have a debt higher than it was two years ago, after last year's record 7.1 per cent increase.

“Whether HECS relief, or assistance for people on prac, on placements, as they finalise their degrees, we are looking at both of those things for the budget,” treasurer Chalmers said on Monday.

“We do acknowledge that students are under pressure, and if we can afford to do something to help on that front, that’s obviously something we’ll consider.”

The Australian Tax Office is yet to officially confirm the indexation figures yet.

Paid teacher placements at CSU

Work experience is also a known pain point for university students. Although considered vital, the mandatory, unpaid work leaves financially strained university students in 'placement poverty', where they have to go without a paycheck or lose their jobs to complete the mandatory hours.

Consequently many students end up dropping out of their degree.

Financially strained university students are usually also from regional, remote, low SES or Indigenous backgrounds, which are all cohorts the university sector review is trying to recruit and retain.

An ACT teacher shortage investigation also found the government could consider financially supporting pre-service teachers during their placements as a teacher attraction and retention initiative.

Charles Sturt University (CSU) will offer paid work placement hours to final year initial teacher education (ITE) students who are willing to work in an ACT government school.

The agreement with the ACT Education Directorate allows ITE students to apply for a Restricted Permit to Teach in the territory, although final year teaching students from any CSU campus can apply.

ACT undergraduate teaching students have to complete 80 days of unpaid professional experience hours a year.

Executive dean of the Charles Sturt Faculty of Arts and Education John McDonald said the more students from lower socio-economic backgrounds that participate in practicum experiences, the better.

"By offering paid placements, we aim to alleviate financial stressors, allowing students to focus on honing their skills in real-world classrooms," Mr McDonald said.

Do you have an idea for a story?
Email [email protected]

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the top stories in our weekly newsletter Sign up now

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


To continue onto Campus Review, please select your institution.