University Fees for Higher Education in Australia

In 1996, the Howard government permitted universities to create full-fee places on which they could charge full up-front fees to students who missed out on a HECS place (with the notable exception of medical degrees). In 2005, the Howard government permitted universities to increase fees by up to 25%.

During the term of the Abbott Government, Education Minister Christopher Pyne consistently sought to fully deregulate university fees. Pyne's proposal would have allowed universities to set their own fees according to the student demand, and graduates who moved offshore to start paying through the tax system. The proposed reforms were unsuccessful, being rejected by the Senate in 2015. University tuition fee and regulation reform remain part of the Liberal-National Coalition Government's policy. The Government released the Driving Innovation Fairness and Excellence in Australian Higher Education consultation paper, in May 2016 proposing a new set of reforms (for consultation).

In the 2017 Australian federal budget, University funding will be reduced by 2.5%. University fees will go up by $2,000 to $3,600 for a four-year course, an increase of 1.8% in 2018, and 7.5% by 2022. From 1 July 2018, the income level at which HECS debt repayments start will be reduced, from $55,000 to $42,000.