Australian students have been heavily impacted by the budget as a range of introduced initiatives are set to benefit those in the higher education system.

Following the Australian Universities Accord report produced in February, the new budget focuses on the issues of HECS (Higher Education Contribution Scheme)/HELP (Higher Education Loan Program) loan indexation and placement poverty.

After a dramatic rise last year, HECS indexation has been adjusted in an effort to lessen the financial pressure placed on students.

Education Minister Jason Clare told ABC News that these changes will help many Australian students and override last year’s high indexation rate.

“This will wipe out around $3 billion in student debt for more than three million Australians,” he said.

With the loans jumping to a 7.2 per cent indexation rate in 2023, student debt was being accumulated faster than it could be repaid and placing an extreme burden on tertiary graduates.

The new policies will see the rate lowered to 3.3 per cent.

In the future, the rate will be calculated by either the Consumer Price Index (CPI) or Wage Price Index (WPI), whichever is lower.

In addition to this, the budget pledged around $427.4 million to combating placement poverty and assisting students who are overwhelmed by the expenses of unpaid placements.

University of Wollongong nursing student, Sophie Goodall said that the unpaid placements make it impossible for her to work and currently create an economic burden.

“It adds extra stress for nursing students. We have to take time off from paid work, while we also have the added costs of transport or accommodation to be at the hospitals where we were placed,” she said.

“As students we can’t afford these extra expenses, like paying double accommodation, while we have no income. We just end up so financially drained.”

This is the government’s stage one response to the University Accord’s recommendations and more action has already been proposed in the form of needs-based funding and loans for affordable social housing.

Other recommendations such as reducing the cost of degrees that have previously been raised and changing bank loan practices to make it easier for those with HECS to purchase a house, have yet to be addressed.