Tuesday, 25 May 2021
Higher Education Support Amendment (Extending the Student Loan Fee Exemption) Bill 2021; Second Reading
I thank honourable members who have contributed to this debate on the Higher Education Support Amendment (Extending the Student Loan Fee Exemption) Bill 2021. This bill amends the Higher Education Support Act 2003 to extend the current FEE-HELP loan fee exemption for a further six months to 31 December 2021. The original loan fee exemption, as part of this government's support for the higher education sector, in direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic, commenced on 1 April last year. This loan fee exemption has already been extended once for nine months until 30 June 2021.
This bill will ensure continuity of support for the higher education sector and will assist around 30,000 undergraduate students that are currently studying or planning to study and accessing FEE-HELP loans. This bill will provide continuity and additional support for the mostly private higher education providers with whom they have chosen to study. By extending the loan fee exemption, this bill will encourage more people to enrol in higher education and support higher education providers to continue to deliver high-quality education opportunities for Australians. In the long term, this will help the Australian workforce to upskill and retrain, which will be vital for Australia's economic recovery and for our long-term growth and prosperity.
So I thank members for their contributions to this key debate on extending the government's support for domestic undergraduate students and higher education providers, and I commend this bill to the House.