Why $3 billion HECS wipe will make a real difference

Why $3 billion HECS wipe will make a real difference
Why $3 billion HECS wipe will make a real difference

Next week’s Budget will wipe around $3 billion from student HECS debt. This will make a real difference for around 3 million Australians.

A student with an average HECS debt of about $26,000, will have their HECS debt cut by about by about $1200.

Someone with a HECS debt of $40,000 will see a cut of about $1800.

This is a really big and important reform that will make HECS fairer.

And it will apply to everyone with a HECS debt, just as our tax cuts will help every single taxpayer.

We are delivering this by changing HECS indexation to be set against either inflation or wages, whichever is the lower and backdating this change to last year.

We also know that too many students have a hard time completing the unpaid practical placements that are crucial to graduates.

Many students do this unpaid work for weeks at a time. Sometimes they’re commuting far from home to do it. It can mean they have to give up the part time work that gets them through uni or TAFE.

It makes it hard to afford – and too many students aren’t finishing their degrees as a result.

So the government is establishing a Commonwealth Prac Payment to support students undertaking mandatory workplace placements.

This takes on a particular importance in areas of skills shortage, such as teaching, nursing, midwifery and social work.

It’s critical that we have more young Australians studying to enter these professions, and unpaid prac shouldn’t be a barrier.

They need the experience – and Australia needs them.

The Commonwealth Prac Payment will provide $319.50 per week to around 68,000 eligible higher education students and 5,000 vocational education students during their clinical and professional placement periods.

Teachers give our children the best start in life. Our nurses were the heroes of the pandemic. Midwives are there for our children as they enter the world. Social workers have one of the most important jobs in our society.

This will give people who have signed up to do some of the most important jobs in this country a bit of extra help to get the qualifications they need.

This is real cost of living relief that will make a real difference to people. And ultimately, all Australians will feel the benefit.

We’re proud to be backing the hard work and aspiration of Australians looking to better themselves by studying at university or TAFE.

Education is the greatest weapon we have against disadvantage.

On election night, I said that I wanted to widen the doors of opportunity.

Doing so is a great Labour tradition, one that my Government is proudly continuing.

Anthony Albanese, Prime Minister of Australia

(This opinion piece was first published on News.com.au on Wednesday, 8 May 2024.)