Life Education Failing university students to lose financial assistance
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Failing university students to lose financial assistance

Students will be under pressure to keep their marks up under a federal government plan to cut over-enrolments and rising debts. Photo: AAP
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University students who fail half of their subjects in their first year could lose financial support under a federal government proposal to curb soaring HELP debts and excessive enrolments.

The move forms part of the government’s overhaul of university funding, as it looks to reduce ballooning HELP debts.

In their sights are students who amass debts by over-enrolling in subjects, sometimes at multiple institutions.

Universities will be expected to make greater efforts to assess academic suitability for selected courses and monitor students’ ongoing progress.

“These measures will ensure students can’t take on a study load they won’t complete, leaving them without a qualification but a large debt,” Education Minister Dan Tehan said on Thursday.

“The lack of transparency of a student’s enrolment has allowed some non-genuine students to enrol and re-enrol at multiple providers at the same time.”

Education Minister Dan Tehan says six per cent of students fail every subject in their first year. Photo: ABC News/Mark Moore

Mr Tehan pointed to the example of a student who started 44 courses at 26 different providers but completed none of them, and ended up with a debt of $663,000.

However, higher-education providers would have discretion if a student’s performance was affected by exceptional circumstances.

Low completion rates won’t be transferred if a student changes course.

Grattan Institute research found nearly six per cent of students failed every subject in their first year at university.

The government reportedly held $66.6 billion worth of HELP debt in 2018/19 and more than 15 per cent of that amount was not expected to be repaid.

-with AAP