House debates

Monday, 27 May 2013


Higher Education Support Amendment (Asian Century) Bill 2013; Report from Committee

6:38 pm

Photo of Mike SymonMike Symon (Deakin, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

On behalf of the Standing Committee on Education and Employment, I present the following report: Advisory report on the Higher Education Support Amendment (Asian Century) Bill 2013, together with minutes of proceedings and evidence received by the committee.

In accordance with standing order 39(f) the report was made a parliamentary paper.

I seek leave to make a statement on the report.

Leave granted.

The Higher Education Support (Asian Century) Bill 2013 was selected on 14 February 2013 by the House Selection Committee for referral to the Committee on Education and Employment for inquiry and report. The reason for referral was that:

The Bill contains a number of provisions relating to OS-HELP and the implementation of the Asian Century policy in relation to study overseas that need to be explored in greater depth .

2 The b ill will amend the Higher Education Support Act 2003 to: increase the maximum OS-HELP loan amount for students studying in Asia; introduce a supplementary loan of up to $1 , 000 for students who undertake intensive study in an Asian language in preparation for undertaking overseas studying in Asia; remove the requirement that a student must be enrolled with an overseas higher education institution or at an overseas campus of an Australian higher education provider to be eligible for OS-HELP; extend eligibility to postgraduate Commonwealth s upported students; and reduce the equivalent full time student load (EFTSL) that a student must have remaining on completion of the overseas study, from 0.5 EFTSL to 0.125 EFTSL.

The inquiry received 17 submissions from student and higher ed ucation associations as well as universities. 3 On 21 March 2013 the committee he ld a public hearing in Canberra to explore themes raised in submissions by stakeholders with officials from the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.

This bill's focus is to further assist Commonwealth supported students, as consistent with the primary purpose of OS-HELP.

The c ommittee acknowledges the arguments and advocacy put forward by eight submitters, including Bond University and the Council of Private Higher Education, that non-CSP students (namely private students) should also be able to access OS-HELP.

The c ommittee recommends that consideration be given to extending the eligibility of OS-HELP assistance to non-CSP students.

Concern was also raised regarding the preferential treatment that the b ill affords to students wishing to study in Asia, over other countries. The d epartment assured the c ommittee that the b ill is compatible with all human rights obligations. Preferential treatment is a key component of the b ill's intent, which is to encourage students to undertake part of their course of study in Asia.

The b ill broadens eligibility for OS-HELP assistance and provides additional incentives for Commonwealth supported students to undertake part of their course of study in Asia.

The c ommittee recommends that the House of Representatives pass the b ill. I would like to thank all those who provided evidence to the inquiry and my committee colleagues who participated in the inquiry. I commend the report to the House.


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