50% Pass Rule to be Scrapped?: Major Changes Could be Coming for HECS Eligibility 

Federal Education Minister Jason Clare announced major changes to higher education laws, most notably that students would no longer have to pass over 50% of their units to be eligible for HECS-HELP upon the release of the Australian Universities Accord Interim Report on July 19.  

The Interim Report recommended five priority actions for change and further areas of consideration – one of which was to “cease the 50% pass rule, given its poor equity impacts, and require increased reporting on student progress”.

The Morrison government introduced the 50% pass rule as part of their Job Ready Graduates program and it came into force January 2022

This meant that any student who failed half their units would have to pay their education fees upfront if their wanted to continue study and if they were unable to pay these fees, they were not allowed to remain enrolled. 

The rule will be scrapped once the Higher Education Support Act 2003 is amended.  

QUT Vice-Chancellor Professor Margaret Sheil said the University was very pleased to see in the Accord’s Interim Report give priority action to cease the 50% pass rule.  

“QUT in its submission argued for urgent reform to this rule due to the impact on our students. QUT has been monitoring this closely and offering support to students at risk under this rule,” Professor Sheil said. 

The Interim Report found that the 50% pass rule “disproportionately disadvantages students from equity backgrounds”. 

QUT Student Guild Academic Advocacy has reported they assisted “a number of students who were extremely distressed about the prospect of being excluded from their course due to not having the means to pay full upfront fees.” 

“As such [Guild Academic Advocacy] commends the Government’s decision to scrap the 50% pass rule,” Guild Advocacy Officer Shane Snow said. 

Guild Education Officer, Emme Muggleton, said she was happy to see the Labor government reverse the initiative that was implemented under the former LNP Morrison government. 

“This is incredible news for students all over Australia. Students who are failing need to be given encouragement and the opportunity to succeed. Access to education should not be taken away purely because an individual doesn’t or has not had the same access to the same resources,” Muggleton said. 

Guild Academic Advocacy’s Student Assist Manager, Emma Surman, said while the legislation was initially introduced with good intentions, it has become evident that its implementation has several drawbacks and unintended consequences that hinder the pursuit of higher education for countless deserving students.  

Surman feels that the removal of the 50% pass rule doesn’t lower academic standards but emphasises holistic student development and individualised learning and ensures education accessibility is crucial for enabling the next generation’s potential. 

The 50% pass rule is currently still in effect and may still be in effect until the end of this semester.  

If you have questions about what this change means for you, or any other questions about your student rights, you can contact QUT Guild Advocacy at: 

3138 1683 (GP) | 3138 2349 (KG) 

advocacy@qutguild.com 

Ben Steele
Ben Steele
Articles: 27

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