On April 12, the Australian government announced a Higher Education relief package. This was announced in a Joint Press Release by the Minister for Education Dan Tehan and Minister for Employment Michaelia Cash.
The new package will provide funding certainty to higher education providers as well as support workers that have been displaced due to COVID-19 and are looking to retrain/upskill.
As per the Press Release, time spent in social distancing due to COVID-19 will be utilized for developing skills for new jobs in nursing, health, IT, science, and teaching.
In order to help Australians retrain, the costs for studying short online courses from universities and private education providers in Australia will be slashed. The online courses are to commence at the beginning of May and will run for 6 months initially.
Additionally, funding will be provided for universities at current level. Greater flexibility will be given in the use of such funds. Providers are to be given flexibility in application of public funding across sub-bachelor, bachelor, and postgraduate places. Previous restrictions limiting the use of funding for non-designated and designated places are to be relaxed for 2020, provided the educational institutions remain within their overall funding allocation.
The Press Release also outlined that tertiary as well as international education providers will be getting regulatory fee relief to be able to better support international and domestic students.
As per the Minister of Education Dan Tehan, these measure would prepare the universities and students to align with the needs of the industry for meeting the skill demands for the “new economy that will emerge from the pandemic”.
“We’re listening to industry, which is why fees charged by the Australian Skills Quality Authority [ASQA], and the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency [TEQSA] will be refunded or waived,” Minister Cash said.
New arrangements for cost recovery for ASQA, TEQSA and for the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students [CRICOS] will be deferred by 12 months, that is, till July 1, 2021.
A 6-month exemption from the loan fees associated with VET Student Loans and FEE-HELP will be provided in order to encourage students paying full-fee to continue with their studies even in the current scenario.
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