Student Fees in Australia: Higher Education Contribution Scheme (HECS)

Student Needs HelpLast week in my post Australia’s Bulk Billing Explained and $7 GP Fee Co-payments I talked about the current Australian Government’s plan to make a visit to the doctors more expensive.

There is another proposed change the government wants to introduce which will make student fees in higher education much more expensive. The government wants to make some quite significant changes to the cost of higher education here.

First, they want to deregulate fees which means that universities can charge pretty much what they like. Next the government want to withdraw about 20% of their contribution so students will have to bear a bigger share of the costs.

On top of that, the government plans to charge a higher rate of interest on student loans, so all in all student higher education fees could rocket if all this gets approved.

As with those GP fees mentioned last week, there’s plenty of opposition to these plans, particularly from The Greens. They’ve set up a website called whatwillmydegreecosts?

I’m sure it’s not going to be a permanent website depending on how this proposal pans out, so below I have done an example for you.

What will my degree cost?

With their interactive website you can find out how bad it might be for you. I went through it myself with the following selections…

student fees (1)I chose medicine. Yes, I always fancied myself as a doctor…

student fees (2)Youth Allowance sounds good, I think I’ll have that…

student fees (3)

Well, I’m 20ish, but that’ll do. So, how’s it looking…

student fees (4)Eek! Looks like I’ll have to pay that Youth Allowance back and strewth, look at those new fees!

I wonder how much it would have cost without these changes?

student fees (5)Compared to how it might be soon…

student fees (6)

Check it out and have a play around yourself: whatwillmydegreecosts?

As you can see, this is scary stuff for students. I’m pretty sure it’s not as bad as it looks above, after all this is a political party (The Greens) trying to make a political point; I’m sure they have everything loaded in their favour.

Apart from what looks like a low graduation salary in this example, I don’t think they can really know exactly how much each degree will cost from each university as that hasn’t been decided yet. Remember, each university can set its own fees and no one has set anything so far.

I have also chosen (probably) one of the most expensive university choices available, that of medicine.


Nothing has been agreed yet, like last week’s doctors proposal, this too has to go through Senate. I’m sure there will be a lot of negotiations and compromises made before anything becomes concrete.

If approved, these new fees will affect all students, domestic and international. For those of you hoping to come here on some kind of student visa though, it’s well worth keeping an eye on these developments.

It’s also worth remembering that if you do go over to the whatwillmydegreecosts? website to have a play around, the price you see for the “before the 2014 budget” is still a current price estimate.

We will all find out in due course what future student higher education fees might be.

HECS, by the way, is now called the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP).

Don’t you just love acronyms?

For more see:

Visa Assessment Service
{ 8 comments… add one }
  • Emily lintern May 21, 2019, 6:02 am |

    is this necessary, and will this work? If approved, these new fees will affect all students, domestic and international. For those of you hoping to come here on some kind of student visa though, will this worth keep an eye on these developments? . I didn’t think so ai just asked this. if you think it will affect more than 50% than tell me how and what will be the biggest problem for them??

    • BobinOz May 22, 2019, 8:49 pm |

      Not sure I understand the significance of Trump’s bad spelling on Twitter, or of anything else you’ve said really. But that’s what makes comments on this website such fun. Thank you, Bob

  • Claudia June 27, 2016, 4:16 am |

    Wonder if anybody could please advise?
    My husband and I are hoping to come out under a skilled work visa with my son who is 17. He plans to go to uni to complete his education, obviously he will not get a loan from the UK government or the Australian govt can anybody advise re the costs as this could be make or break for our move ?. Thankyou

    • BobinOz June 27, 2016, 11:57 pm |

      Well, I think these fees vary from university to university. If I were you I would contact the universities directly, explain the course you want your son to go on and ask what the costs are. Hope that helps, Bob

  • Niall August 9, 2014, 6:11 pm |

    Hi Bob

    I’ve been reading your blog for the past few years and for a prospective migrant it’s been very helpful and informative and good fun too.

    We’ve been lucky enough to have our visa granted a few weeks ago. So you can imagine the excitement. And having a 16 14 and 2 year old you could realise my horror when I read this post. We had hoped to get our kids through university with as little debt as possible as I’m sure most parents do.

    So my question is this when will the Senate decide on this? It could be a deal breaker for us as I wouldn’t want my kids to start out with that kind of debt. It’s not that expensive in the UK and Ireland so we could just give up on oz and stay at home.

    Thanks for letting me ramble.


    • BobinOz August 11, 2014, 5:32 pm |

      Hi Niall

      I don’t think there is a set date on when Senate will decide, I think all you can do is Google for the latest information and try to keep on top of it. Sorry I can’t be more helpful, but I do hope you find answers elsewhere.

      I’m pretty sure nothing’s been finalised yet, but I’m not sure at what stage it currently is at.

      Good luck, Bob

  • Trent June 20, 2014, 1:29 am |

    We’ve recently been talking about possibly looking into the ‘big move’ to Oz, so I’ve been catching up on your blog. It’s fantastic!
    Anyways, felt the need to chime in. My wife and I both are employed by a university in the states. It’s a fairly small state college and the costs are relatively average here. However, costs continue to increase year by year. Not sure how it is in the UK or Australia, but here, there has always been such a big push to go to college so you could be successful. I’m starting to wonder if attending college is worth the burden of debt after graduation. I know some students who have already racked up over $100,000 in debt and will probably find it very difficult to find a job to cover bills plus a huge student loan payment.
    Don’t get me wrong, my wife and I are both college graduates and I have some of my best memories during that time. Still, I’m beginning to think that the next generations would be better off going to a trade/technical school or apprenticeship to learn a skill. Nobody is learning to be an electrician, carpenter, plumber, etc. anymore. These jobs will increase in demand for years to come and they often pay very well.
    We have three children (10,7 & 4) and I may advise them to go this route unless they secure scholarships or we are still employed in higher ed. The college we are at now offers free tuition to employees’ children, though I could see that going away as costs go up.
    In my opinion, higher ed is going to price themselves right out of business.
    I’ll keep following along Bob. Who knows, we may take the big leap one day and we could be neighbors. Cheers.

    • BobinOz June 20, 2014, 10:06 pm |

      You’ve made some very interesting points Trent, as important as education is, like any other commodity it has a price ceiling and if universities start charging more than their product is worth, market forces dictate that students will stop coming.

      People trained in the skills you mention like electricians, carpenters and plumbers, they will always manage to find work providing there are not too many of them and it’s certainly a lot less expensive to train for those kind of trades.

      It can’t be much fun training as a dentist and then starting your first full-time job knowing you have over $100,000 in loans to pay back. Yes, universities could certainly price themselves out of the market if they fail to keep their costs under control.

      Thanks for adding your thoughts to this conversation, I think you’re absolutely right, people will think long and hard before they commit to expensive university education and they may look at other choices.

      Cheers, Bob

Leave a Comment

If your comment doesn’t get answered, find out why…..
FAQs and Comment Policy.