Wednesday, 26 August 2020
Education Legislation Amendment (Up-front Payments Tuition Protection) Bill 2020; Second Reading
That this bill be now read a second time.
The Education Legislation Amendment (Up-front Payments Tuition Protection) Bill 2020 expands Australia's unique and successful Tuition Protection Service (TPS) to cover domestic higher education students who pay their study costs upfront. This will ensure that higher education students receive the same high-quality government backed tuition protection regardless of whether they pay upfront or access a HELP loan for their study costs.
These new tuition protection arrangements will ensure that domestic higher education students who pay for their study costs upfront are supported if their private higher education provider stops teaching or closes entirely. Students protected under these new arrangements will be assisted to complete their studies in a similar course with another provider and gain their qualification, or they may receive a refund for tuition payments they had made for those units of study which were not fully delivered by their provider.
The TPS successfully delivers tuition protection for international students and domestic students who receive Commonwealth assistance in the form of a HELP or VSL loan to support their studies. The TPS is a well-respected and proven model and contributes to the strong reputation of Australia's international education sector. The expansion of the TPS to include domestic higher education students who pay tuition fees for their studies upfront contributes to the government's ongoing commitment to safeguard the integrity and quality of Australia's higher education sector.
The bill also provides that, from 1 January 2021, the new tuition protection arrangements will:
In 2019, a number of providers and the peak bodies who represent the sector provided feedback to the Senate inquiry into the Education Legislation Amendment (Tuition Protection and Other Measures) Bill 2019 (which is now enacted), seeking an extension of the TPS to higher education students who pay their study costs upfront. Private higher education providers will also no longer be required to maintain separate burdensome and costly assurance arrangements for these upfront-paying students.
In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and its impacts on the higher education sector, these new tuition protection arrangements provide an additional measure of assurance to domestic upfront-fee-paying students that they will be assisted in the event that their provider closes or stops teaching a course from 2021. These arrangements will encourage people to invest in their education and gain a qualification, knowing that they will be protected by government backed arrangements, so they can help expand Australia's skilled workforce and support growth in our economy.
I commend the bill.