Council approves HECS increase for future students

Friday, 16 April 2004

The University of Adelaide will now offer more scholarships and improved access to a world-class, quality education following today's decision by the University Council to increase Higher Education Contribution Scheme (HECS) fees for new students from 2005.

At a meeting of Council today, the University of Adelaide decided to increase HECS to the maximum level of 25% in all undergraduate programs from 2005 other than nursing and teaching.

The 25% increase will only affect new undergraduates from 2005 - it will not affect continuing students.

Under the Commonwealth Higher Education Support Act 2003, the Federal Government has given Australian universities the option of increasing HECS in academic programs by up to 25%.

So far, at least 10 universities across Australia - including most of the other prestigious Group of Eight universities - have indicated they will move to the full 25% HECS increase across their academic programs.

Better education for students

The University's Chancellor, Mr Robert Champion de Crespigny AC, says the Council's decision to increase HECS for future students is an important step for the University of Adelaide. He says it will allow the University to reinforce its claim as a premier university in Australia.

"In a small State, we believe it is essential for the University of Adelaide to be able to compete at a national and international level, and this move will enable us to do just that," Mr Champion de Crespigny says.

"As a quality university Adelaide is always striving to provide the best for our students, our graduates and the community. The exciting result of today's decision is that we now have an opportunity to build on our strengths and enhance the quality of what we offer."

He says the University of Adelaide had been lobbying the Federal Government for more student places and greater funding in a bid to improve resources at the University.

"Everything we do is driven by the pursuit of excellence. With greater resources available to us, we can do things better. We will be able to show the rest of Australia why the University of Adelaide is a premier institution, and why South Australia is an outstanding education destination," he says.

More scholarships, improved equity of access

Vice-Chancellor Professor James McWha says the University of Adelaide remains committed to providing the best educational experience to students from all socio-economic backgrounds.

"The increase in HECS fees for future students will enable the University to introduce new equity scholarships and other measures to improve access opportunities, under which students in financial need will pay less," he says.

"At least 10% of the additional revenue received from HECS increases will be allocated specifically to scholarships and other access initiatives, with up to another 10% also being available to improve quality and equity of access.

"The scholarships that result from this will see top students in financial need actually paying less HECS than they were before the increase. This is a positive move for students who deserve a quality education."

University goals

Professor McWha says the University of Adelaide has specific goals that it wants to achieve, and the increase in HECS will help in that process. These goals include:

  • Fairness - providing an expanded range of scholarships
  • Ensuring the University continues to attract the best quality academic staff
  • Providing degrees of international repute
  • Maintaining a good student/staff ratio
  • Enhancing the quality of facilities and the Barr Smith Library

Changes to HECS - how much will it cost?

The 2005 HECS increases mean that:

  • Future students studying for undergraduate degrees in Band 1 (humanities, arts, behavioural science, social studies, foreign languages, visual and performing arts) will incur an additional HECS fee of up to $960 per year (on average, $18 a week)
  • Those in Band 2 (accounting, commerce, administration, economics, maths, statistics, computing, built environment, health, engineering, science, agriculture) will incur an additional HECS fee of up to $1,368 per year (or $26 a week)
  • For those in Band 3 (law, dentistry, medicine), the HECS increase amounts to $1,602 per year ($31 a week)

For those who do not take the up-front payment option, students will only pay their HECS fees once they have earned in excess of $36,000 per annum.

Consultation with students

The University of Adelaide has conducted a major consultative process among the university and external communities, including feedback from its entire student population about a potential increase in HECS fees.

"The ability to improve the quality of the educational experience was the most common reason for supporting fee increases, and this is exactly what the University of Adelaide aims to achieve," Professor McWha says.

"Equity of access to university education was the main reason why some students were against an increase in HECS. However, the University is taking steps to ensure that equity of access will be improved for those in need."


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Mr David Ellis
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External Relations
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 5414
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