University students could pay more for their education but income-contingent government loans to cover fees are unlikely to be dismantled in the upcoming budget.
Education Minister Christopher Pyne said the HELP system where university students borrow from the government to pay for their course and don’t start repayments until they earn more than $51,000 was widely admired.
“That is a great system, the envy of the world, which we will maintain,” he told ABC TV on Sunday.
“But I do think there is capacity for students to contribute more to their own education.”
The national commission of audit recommended the government increase student contributions to 55 per cent of costs.
Currently students cover about 40 per cent.
The commission also suggested the government drop the repayment threshold so graduates started paying the loans back once they earned the minimum wage, about $32,000.
Mr Pyne was very attracted to a recommendation in a separate review of universities that government expand its demand-driven funding to cover sub-bachelor courses like diplomas and associate degrees.
If taken up, this would likely increase the cost of higher education for the federal government.
The minister indicated the balance of where money is spent on education will likely to change in the May 13 budget but insisted the government would stick to a promise to increase the overall pool.
“But it won’t be in the Labor Party’s priority areas, it’ll be in our priority areas because we won the election,” he said.