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Australia: Latest News

Major cuts planned for university sector in Australia

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The Australian government has announced plans to make huge cutbacks of around $2.8 billion to the university sector in their country.


This means a fee increase of 7.5% over the next four years for students in Australia, a lowering of the amount of money Australian graduates need to be earning in order to pay their student loans back, and major changes to the way fees will be charged for students from New Zealand.


These changes could also have a significant impact on the hundreds of thousands of international students who undertake their studies in Australia.


We know it’s a lot to digest, but hopefully we can make it all a bit easier to understand.


What does this mean for students from New Zealand who want to study in Australia?


The plans include a huge change in the way that students from New Zealand will be charged for their degrees. Kiwi students going to Australia for university will no longer be able to receive a type of grant called a commonwealth fee subsidy. These are provided by the government for Australian nationals, and they usually pay for a large chunk of a student’s tuition fees.


This means that New Zealanders will have to pay the full fees for their course in Australia, which could quadruple the amount they pay, in comparison to how much they would usually pay if their studies were financially supported by the commonwealth fees. For example, a New Zealand undergraduate studying at the University of Sydney will have to pay over $38,000 per year for a degree in Commerce under the planned changes, but before – when they were entitled to the commonwealth subsidies - they would have been charged roughly $10,000 a year.



The Australian government has said that all students coming from New Zealand will now be eligible to access the ‘FEE-HELP’ student loans, that are available to all Australian citizens. These loans help students to pay back their tuition fees.


However, these loans have a 25% fee on top of paying back all the tuition fees. This means that the student studying Commerce at the University of Sydney could have to pay a $38,000 fee on top of having to pay back their loan at the end of their four-year degree.


What do these cuts mean for international students in Australia?


Overseas students are charged the full cost for their degrees in Australia, and are not allowed to apply for any loans from the government – even before these planned cuts.


The fee increase that is part of the planned cutbacks is expected to hit all students, whether they are domestic or international. But because international students cannot apply for loans from the Australian government, they will arguably be hit with the hardest by this rise.


Over the next four years, there is a planned 1.8% increase in fees per year, meaning that there will be an overall 7.5% increase by 2021. The Australian Head of State, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, said that the fee increases for a four-year course could mean a rise of between $2,000 and $3,600, depending on the university and the course.


If you are unsure of the usual rules for tuition fees in Australia, have a read of our guide.


People studying in state library of Victoria, Melbourne


Data from Australia’s independent regulator of the higher education sector, TEQSA, suggests that the amount of money foreign students pay per year in tuition fees back to the Australian government is increasing compared to that of domestic students. As a result, the international market is crucial to the future of universities in the country. University unions have warned that the $2.8 billion cutback by the government could have a negative impact on the quality of teaching throughout Australia, and that this could mean international students think twice about going to the country’s universities.


Although students will be paying more, universities will be receiving less money from the government, which will mean that there will be less money to pay staff at various institutions. It could also mean cancellation of classes and a greater reliance on casual staff. Experienced researchers and academics could also lose the security of having tenure, which is a type of contact that helps to keep valued workers for the long-term, but can be a more expensive option for employers.


However, these plans are all yet to be put into action, so keep checking our Australia news page for all the latest.


Alternative options:


If you want to study in Australia (a lot of foreign students love the country), don’t let this news discourage you from attending one of their universities! There are options available for you to be able to study at an Australian university for a bit cheaper:


  • You could study on a Transnational Education (TNE) program.


This is where you can stay in your home country, but study on a degree run by a university in a different country (in this case, an Australian university). TNE’s allow you to get accredited by the same institution, but you study on a campus more local to you. It means that you do not have to worry about student visas, you can continue to live at home and you won’t have to pay the expensive living costs of Australia. The University of Tasmania has TNE programs running all around Asia, and one running in New Zealand too.


  • You could see if you are eligible for an Australian scholarship.


Australia has been listed as one of the most expensive places to study in the world, so have a look at our guide to see if you can apply for an Australian scholarship. That way, your studies suddenly don’t seem so pricey!


No matter what happens, Australia will always be a very reputable place to study. They have eight universities in the Times Higher Education top 150, which is a pretty good return. So, don’t hold back! Have a look at our university search for Australia now.

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