Photography students at Nambour TAFE Malcolm Hewitt and Sam Haworth welcome the talk about HECS-style payments.
Photography students at Nambour TAFE Malcolm Hewitt and Sam Haworth welcome the talk about HECS-style payments. Nicholas Falconer

Fee reforms a relief for students

COURSE fees take a big chunk out of Sunshine Coast TAFE student Malcolm Hewitt's wallet.

The second year photography student dished out about $3700 this year for the course he has always dreamed of pursuing.

"It's pretty hard to come up with the cost in one go at the start of year, especially with all the other course related things we have to pay for like printing and equipment," Mr Hewitt said.

But Prime Minister Julia Gillard plans to abolish some upfront TAFE fees for thousands of students by offering a national HECS-style university loans scheme.

Under the proposed reforms, all students studying government-subsidised Diplomas of Advanced Diplomas will, for the first time, have access to the HECS-style loans.

Others will be guaranteed a significant fee subsidy of up to $7800.

TAFE students will not need to repay the loan until their annual income reaches $47,000.

Students studying foundation and entry-level courses for trade apprenticeships, aged care, child care, construction, transport and other areas will be guaranteed a government-subsidised place.

A spokeswoman for the Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Jobs and Workplace Relation Senator Chris Evans said the reforms would mean thousands of Australians would finally be able to afford to get skills needed for a job or better job.

"Up until now, vocational students have faced significant cost barriers which too often can stop people from getting the skills they need to advance their careers.

"Our reforms will extend the benefits that university students have had for years to vocational students, giving them more choice about what and where they train."

Nambour TAFE photography student Sam Haworth said she would have been thrilled to have a HECS-style system while studying.

"It's really tricky to come up with the money, especially for me since I moved here specifically for this course," Ms Haworth said.

"I am living on my own and have so many expenses like travel and electricity," she said.

On the Sunshine Coast there are 2380 student at Mooloolaba campus, 917 at Maroochydore, Nambour has 3807 students and Noosa campus has 237 students.

The reforms are expected to be negotiated between the Commonwealth and State at the Council of Australian Governments in the first half of 2012.

 

Fast facts

Government subsidy of up to $7,800 for Australian TAFE students on the cards for next year.

Subsidies for foundation and entry-level courses such as trade apprentices, aged care, child care, construction and transport


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