Mr CLARE (Blaxland—Minister for Education) (17:25): I want to thank all members for their contributions to this important debate. As I said when I introduced the bill two weeks ago, the Education Legislation Amendment (2022 Measures No. 1) Bill 2022 will improve equality of access to higher education and supports the government’s commitment to building a highly skilled workforce.
Our election commitment to remove the 10 per cent HECS-HELP discount for upfront payments is projected to save $144 million over the forward estimates, savings which will help to fund our 20,000 new university places which have been allocated to students who are under-represented in our universities: people from poor families, people from our regions or remote parts of Australia, Australians with a disability and Indigenous Australians. It’s another step forward towards fairer access to higher education for our country.
The extension of the FEE-HELP loan fee exemption for a further 12 months will support full-fee-paying undergraduates and their providers as the sector recovers from the COVID pandemic. The bill also supports the development of innovative, flexible and industry focused higher education programs by extending FEE-HELP to the government’s microcredentials pilot. It also improves the operation of the Higher Education Support Act by clarifying the treatment of enabling courses and unique student identifier requirements and aligns HECS-HELP and FEE-HELP citizenship and residency requirements for New Zealand citizens accessing a Commonwealth supported place.
Once again, I thank all members for their contributions to this debate. I commend the bill to the House.
Question agreed to.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.