Students welcome fee relief

June 18, 2024 BY

Students have welcomed recent government announcements aimed at reducing HELP debt and alleviating the costs of prac placements. PHOTO: Javier Truebia

LOCAL students have welcomed recent government announcements aimed at reducing HELP debt and alleviating the costs of prac placements.

The federal government’s initiative will benefit more than three million Australians, including over 18,000 in the federal electorate of Corangamite.

Deakin third-year Bachelor of Education student Cait Reynolds highlighted the pressures pre-service teachers face.

“The paid placement investment will remove some pressures felt by every pre-service teacher I know,” she said.

“We are required to take multiple weeks off in a row to complete the 80 days needed in the classroom.”

“I know mature-age students who have struggled to put their children in before and after-school care during placement.”

“I have seen students struggle with the ultimatum of paying rent or filling up their car.”

Speaking in Parliament last week, Corangamite federal member Libby Coker shared Cait’s story.

“The Albanese Government knows that burgeoning HECS debt and costly prac placements have been a heavy burden for many Australians who have chosen to study,” Ms Coker said.

“That’s why, in our recent budget, our government announced a significant reduction in HECS debt, saving three million Australian graduates $3 billion.”

The Budget has capped the HELP indexation rate at the lower of either the Consumer Price Index (CPI) or the Wage Price Index (WPI), effective from 1 June 2023.

This cap will be backdated to all HELP, VET Student Loan, Australian Apprenticeship Support Loan, and other student support loan accounts that existed on 1 June last year.

The move aims to prevent debt growth from outpacing wages and will address last year’s spike in the CPI indexation rate of 7.1 per cent.

The new Commonwealth Prac Payment will support students undertaking mandatory work placements required for university and vocational education and training qualifications.

Eligible teaching, nursing, midwifery, and social work students will receive $319.50 per week during their clinical and professional placement periods starting from 1 July 2025.

“In my electorate, the response to this has been unanimously positive,” Ms Coker said.

“I’ve been speaking with community members for many years about the need for a fairer HECS system and more support for our students on prac placements, and I’m pleased that our government has heard this call and is acting to reduce the financial burden.”

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