25 May 2023


Media Release – ATN Universities – HELP for students is a world-class system – 24 May 2023

In an Op-Ed published today, Luke Sheehy, Executive Director of the Australian Technology Network of Universities (ATN) has backed the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP), calling it “a world-class” system.

Mr Sheehy said HELP was “a genius Australian invention” which has provided affordable access to university for generations of Australians

Since 1989 over 4.9 million students have benefited from the HELP system. If participation rates for young people had remained below 20 per cent as they were in the 1980s, a million Australians would have missed out on a university education.

HELP has been so successful that it has turbo-charged participation in universities right around the world. It has been replicated in Hungary, New Zealand, South Korea and the United Kingdom, successfully driving millions more students through the system.

“It is understandable that the spotlight has been placed on the HELP system given the current cost of living pressures being felt across the economy and Australians young and old feeling the pinch,” Mr Sheehy added.

“By all means, we should have a meaningful debate about student contributions, the anomalous impact of current inflation and the settings around repayments, but what should not be up for debate is the foundation of the HELP system – it must be defended and preserved. Remember the foundation of HELP is that not a single dollar is paid upfront, so no one is priced out. Repayments are only asked of you when you when you are earning a full-time wage. This means you only pay when you can afford it.

“The reality is that removing the established HELP system risks a future government radically cutting places or reintroducing fees without the HELP safety net that all students have come to rely on.
“Let’s resist the temptation to pull apart the entire system because the fundamentals are sound and have stood the test of time. We are at a fork in the road in this grand year of review and higher education reform. The answer is not to tear down a world-class system which has worked extraordinarily well for almost 35 years, the answer is to make it even better.”

The full Op-Ed is available on the ATN Universities website: