A positive thing for me”; UOW students pleased with the Albanese Government’s new changes to HECS Debt and student placement payments.

With the modifications to HECS Debt along with other reforms announced in the 2024 Federal Budget by the Federal Treasurer, University of Wollongong students see these new changes as a positive outcome for their education.

On the 14th of May, Treasurer Jim Chalmers handed down the Albanese Government’s third Federal Budget. The Budget announced on Tuesday evening, brought in a number of new modifications to the way the HECS debt indexation works as well as changes to university placement payments which is inline with the recommendations of the University Accord.

What is HECS?
HECS is the Higher Education Contribution Scheme. It is a form of loan that you take out as a student to pay for your university fees and while there is no interest that has to be paid, every year it gets indexed based off of the CPI (Consumer Price Index), This indexation has come under fire over recent years and so due to recommendations by the University Accord the Government has decided to modify Indexation and make the system fairer.

What are the Changes to HECS?
These changes to HECS involves cutting 3 billion dollars in student debt for 3 million Australians by capping the HECS indexation rate to be lower than either the consumer price index or the wage price index. The Government also pledged to backdate these changes to student loans that existed from the 1st of June 2023. This year indexation was meant to increase to 4.7% but thanks to these new changes announced by Treasurer Chalmers it decreased to 4%. University of Wollongong Computer science student Blake Daly-Herbert believes that these changes are “a positive thing for me”. Mr Daly-Herbert followed up by saying its a “Pretty good system already” but he also sees that overall these changes means he has “less money to pay”.

The Old System
Under the original system, students were required to undertake work placements where they are required as a part of their degree to gain practical experience in their field of study. This would typically involve not getting any form of compensation for the amount of hours, days or weeks that has been worked. To ensure the system is fairer the Government introduced a payment which will ensure people can earn money and still live while they are on placement. The amount of $300 per week through the duration of the placement period will assist students with living expenses such as rent, transport and general living costs.

The New System
Under the new system the Government announced that they would be giving payments to teachers, nurses and social workers on mandatory placements; these changes come into effect in mid 2025. Nursing student Luca Wright says “It’s a good thing that will benefit many people, particularly mature age students who have children and are unable to work during placement periods”. She also said that “As it means tested, not everyone will qualify for the payment. I’m hoping it will go to the people who are really struggling financially.” Which Miss Wright says is a “down side”, But nevertheless Miss Wright states that “this will be a positive change for me, as students should get some form of payment for placements”.