Proposed changes to Higher Education funding and fees

As you will be aware, major changes were proposed to higher education in Australia as part of the Federal Government’s 2014 budget.  The proposed changes include a reduction in the government’s contribution to the cost of an undergraduate degree by an average 20% as from 1 January 2016, and allowing universities to set their own fees for domestic undergraduate students from the same date (

In early December 2014 the Senate rejected the legislative changes, however an almost identical bill was put to the House of Representatives the following day.  The proposed changes will be debated further by Parliament in early 2015, and at this stage it is impossible to predict which of the changes will be passed by Parliament and in what form.

The current proposal is that the measures will affect any domestic student accepting a place from 14 May 2014 onwards. This means that if you accept an offer from UNSW on or after 14 May 2014, any changes to the fee arrangements would apply to you from 1 January 2016. 

If you accepted an offer to study at UNSW before 14 May 2014, you will continue to be charged under the existing arrangements until you complete your current program or until 31st December 2020 (whichever comes first).

The 2015 Student Contribution amounts for students with a HECS place are available here and will apply to all students with a HECS place.

Given the level of uncertainty regarding the proposed changes, UNSW, like most other universities, is not currently in a position to provide an estimate of the level of fees likely to be charged from 2016 as there are many variables which are out of our control.

In deciding on the fees to set from 2016, we will need to take into account any reduction in support from the government as well as ensuring that UNSW can continue to provide an outstanding education for you and other students into the future. I am concerned that exaggerated claims in the media about the level of fees universities may decide to charge could be causing anxiety. I want to assure you that if the proposed changes are implemented, UNSW will be taking a very responsible approach. Our goal will be to strike the right balance between providing an outstanding education and not unfairly burdening our students.  To this end, we will continue to work with your elected student representatives at Arc and the wider student community in determining UNSW’s response to the changes.

UNSW is committed to providing the best possible university experience that is open to students from all walks of life. Central to this commitment is investing in the services and facilities most valued by our students. We know that when you decide to study at UNSW, it would be with the expectation that a degree gained here will continue to be of top quality, and recognised as such by employers not only in Australia but overseas.

We will provide as much information as possible as circumstances become clearer, so I encourage you to regularly check this website for future updates.

Professor Iain Martin
Vice-President & Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic)

5 December 2014