19 June 2020

Today’s announcement by Education Minister Dan Tehan MP demonstrates the Government’s understanding of the importance of higher education in Australia’s economic and social recovery and highlights the need to meet increased demand from Australian students as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“ATN welcomes the Government’s announcement of additional places and increased indexation in Australia’s higher education funding system as part of a broader plan to drive a reskilling agenda for the country,” said ATN Chair, Professor Attila Brungs.

As Australia begins the path to recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, Australia’s universities will play a crucial role in getting our economy back on track.

“Australia’s future prosperity is reliant on supporting increased education, training and knowledge. Our recovery from economic downturn will mean more workers seeking skills, retraining or upskilling opportunities.”

ATN has long advocated for a sector that is diverse, inclusive and open to all those who seek to further education and capability development.

“Getting our national education and skills agenda right is critical to mitigate against the increasing equity gap and social disadvantage occurring because of the COVID-19 crisis,” said Professor Brungs.

ATN has always supported reforms that enhance our ability to provide the highest quality education and further the equity and participation gains made in recent years.

ATN welcomes the priority the Government places on remaining the majority funder of the cost of Australian student places at university and ensuring no increased cost for students already studying but will need look through this package in detail to understand and analyse the future impact on students as well as our capacity to deliver high quality engineering and science programs.

“We look forward to continuing to work closely in partnership with the Government on shaping these reforms for the benefit of all students in our institutions,” said Professor Brungs.

Australia’s income contingent loan scheme is the envy of the world over for supporting access and participation for all students wanting to study.

This scheme combined with maintaining majority Government contributions as well as programs that support access and participation, like HEPP, are vital in keeping the system fair and accessible for students, whilst also reflecting the public benefits of higher education.