Conservatives help end student tax grab

August 14, 2018

Thousands of Australian university students will be thousands of dollars better off after Conservative Party leader Cory Bernardi successfully moved an amendment to abolish an unjustifiable 25 per cent "fee" charged on some higher-education student loans.

Students studying at private higher education providers were being taxed with a "fee" equivalent to a whopping 25% of their total loan.

The 'fee' is currently rolled into loan repayments that are triggered when the student's post-education income hits a certain level. However, thanks to the Conservative Party, that will no longer be the case from as early as the start of 2019 - even for students continuing their degree in that academic year. They will pay the same as the public university students from now on.

Senator Bernardi said the fee was an issue of equity at private universities, "It's a tax on university choice. If you decide you don't want to go into the public university system you are being penalised. It's a modest amount of money for the government to raise while it's restricting access to university," he said.

The Bill has now passed the Senate by the narrowest of margins, but is expected to pass in its amended form in the House of Representatives shortly. 

In early July the Australian Financial Review recognised the efforts of Senator Bernardi to unite the senate to abolish the fee. In that story, education officer of the National Union of Students, Con Karavias, described loan fees as "absurd and nonsensical" and "another way of making education less and less affordable". Education think-tank the Grattan Institute said it could see no defensible reason why some groups were being singled out.

Senator Bernardi said his interest in higher education had been sparked by his own children reaching university age. He spoke on the Sky News 'Outsiders' program in 2017 about his concerns about the direction higher education was taking in Australia:

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