University graduates who move overseas after finishing their studies are taking a “free ride” on the taxpayer, according to the peak universities body.
Universities Australia has called on the government to crack down on overseas graduates, suggesting that collecting debts from students would stop the cost of higher education increasing, according to a Fairfax report.
University graduates do not have to repay their loans when they move overseas.
Bruce Chapman, who developed HECS repayment scheme, estimated that the move could save the budget $80 million a year.
The United Kingdom and New Zealand are already recovering debts from their overseas graduates, said Universities Australia chief executive Belinda Robinson.
“There are big licks of cash that can be found – we don’t believe it is as hard as has been made out,” said Ms Robinson.
“It’s a free ride.”
“Recovering debts from overseas would make other changes more palatable,” she said.
Education Minister Christopher Pyne said that he was negotiating an arrangement with Britain to collect debts from Australian graduates.
Twenty-three per cent of graduates working overseas live in Britain.
The Grattan Institute estimated that charging overseas students would bring in $177 million in extra revenue over two years.