Higher education Bill must be passed, but with amendments: UWA

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The University of Western Australia today called on Federal Parliament to support the deregulation of Australian universities to ensure Australia retains a world-class higher education system.

With the Higher Education and Research Reform Amendment Bill 2014 introduced to Parliament today, UWA's Vice-Chancellor, Professor Paul Johnson, said the Government's proposed legislation embarks on the most sweeping changes to Australia's higher education system by removing price barriers on universities, opening the market up to new competitors, and delivering more choice to students.

"The tertiary education sector is broadly in favour of deregulation," Professor Johnson said.  "The status quo is not feasible as it will over time erode the quality of our education and research activities - not a good position to be in when our nearest Asian competitors are investing so heavily in these areas.

"The future of Australia's higher education system now rests in the hands of all Federal Members of Parliament," Professor Johnson said. "Over the coming weeks and months they will decide whether universities are released from the shackles of Government to take on the rest of the world, or continue to be constrained by regulation and a dwindling share of Government investment."    

However, Professor Johnson said while UWA supports the direction of the legislation, there are particular elements of the Bill that require further careful consideration. "We would like CPI indexation of HECS loans rather than indexation at the Government bond rate, which we think would unfairly place higher financial burdens on lower-earning graduates, and less severe cuts to government funding per student," he said. 

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