Tuition costs will rise post-election

October 22, 2004

Australian Prime Minister John Howard's general election victory has guaranteed that most universities' fees will rise next year, to the relief of vice-chancellors anticipating a new stream of income.

Had the Labor Party won, it would have scrapped a government plan to allow universities to introduce top-up fees in 2005 and increase the number of full-fee places for Australian students.

Eighteen universities will raise fees by the government-set maximum of 25 per cent. Eight others have opted for smaller increases. It is likely the 12 universities that decided not to impose a rise will follow suit in 2006.

The higher charges will be mitigated by an increase of A$10,000 (£4,038) - to A$35,000 - in the annual income threshold for repaying Higher Education Contribution Scheme debts after graduating.

Wealthy students are likely to take up the Government's offer of a A$50,000 loan. But many will have to find more cash for courses such as dentistry, medicine and veterinary science where tuition costs will be up to A$200,000.

Union leaders warned the Government that it would face strong opposition if it went ahead with plans to impose performance-based pay schemes on academics.

Previous attempts were blocked in the Senate, where the Government held a minority of seats. In the new Parliament, the Government is likely to have control for the first time in 20 years.

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