The not-quite-nothing higher education budget

Last night’s budget is widely perceived as having delivered nothing for higher education. But if DEEWR’s portfolio budget statements are compared to last year’s, we can see that this isn’t quite true.

The relaxation of rules on how many students can be enrolled on full government funding rates is having more of an effect than the government anticipated last year. The extra students will cost the taxpayer $600 million more over the next three years than originally forecast. HELP lending will go up even more, with an extra $650 million in outlays if current predictions are right (this includes people borrowing full fees under FEE-HELP, as well as the HECS-HELP money associated with more Commonwealth-supported students).

Reaction has been neutral to negative because apart from full-fee students facilitated by FEE-HELP this money doesn’t solve the problems universities face of costs increasing more quickly than revenues. The would-be students who have missed out in the past due to quotas on university enrolments have never had much of a political voice, and so can neither praise nor condemn government policy on this matter. Continue reading “The not-quite-nothing higher education budget”