The federal budget and what it will do for you

By Treasurer Calissa Leyden 

For those of you who don’t celebrate, on May 14 the Labor government released the 2024/2025 budget. One of my favourite days of the year, other than the end of the financial year. Surprisingly, it seems the government read the University Accords (a list of recommendations for tertiary institutions released earlier this year) and kind of listened; some of the Accords’ recommendations are actually being implemented! 

Now this is a long document, so here is a brief summary of what is relevant to university students.  

Reduced indexation 

The government has promised to reduce indexation. For those of you who don’t know, this is the amount added to your HELP debt every year to keep it aligned with inflation. In June 2023, students saw their HELP indexed at 7.1%. The government, however, is going to backdate this reduction, lowering last year’s indexation to 3.2% through a credit applied to your loan. This year the indexation will be reduced from 4.7% to around 4%. Overall, this will equate to a decrease of $3 billion in student loans for more than three million Australians.  

Prac payments 

From July 1 2025, the government will introduce the Commonwealth Prac Payments (CPP), for nursing, midwifery, teaching, and social work students in higher education. The payment will be $319.50 per week and will be means tested. Although this is a step in the right direction, this still puts students below the National Poverty Line of $489 per week.   

SSAF increase to student-led organisations (that means us!)  

Each semester every student has to pay their Student Services and Amenities fees, unless you want to be slowly barred from using things at QUT (one year I forgot to pay it and they disconnected my WIFI). These fees go towards funding activities and support services across the university, such as the Student Guild (your student union) and Glass magazine.   

The budget will require that student led organisations receive least 40% of all SSAF paid to the university. This is a huge jump from the 20% the Student Guild received in 2022. Overall, this is a huge win for students at QUT, with more student funds being in the hands of students.  

Increase in student accommodation 

The government has promised to implement regulatory requirements to ensure public universities (like QUT) provide more purpose-built student accommodation. This is to relieve the pressure of the private rental market and increase student accommodation, but the proposal is quite broad and provides little information. The government has committed $2.1 million over four years, which is kind of a pitiful attempt. But I appreciate the vision, I guess?  

Caps placed on international students 

The government will be legislating a cap on the number of international students allowed to enrol each year. The education minister will be able to require certain educational providers to limit the number of new international students each year.  

If universities wish to enrol more than their allocation, they will be required to establish new purpose-built student accommodation to benefit both international and domestic students.  

Funding for underrepresented students 

The government is focusing on increasing tertiary attainment of underrepresented students to enrol and remain in university. This will be on a needs-based funding model which will start in January 2026, exclusively for First Nations students, students with disabilities and those from low socio-economic backgrounds and regional areas. However, there is no indication of how this will be implemented and function. Hopefully it works.   

Steps to equality 

The government will be creating a new regulator which will be operational by July 1, 2025, called the Australian Tertiary Education Commission (ATEC), which will hopefully bring more guidance and coordination to the sector. The primary goal of ATEC is to ensure our national skill needs are met and to foster a cohesive tertiary education system. 

The government has also promised to establish an independent National Student Ombudsman, which will provide a single, national mechanism for higher education students to escalate complaints about their education providers, including gender-based violence. Again, no indication of what this will look like, the budget do be vague.  

Some honourable mentions: 

  • The average time to pay off a HELP debt was 9.6 years (cries in law school fees) 
  • The government will provide $101.8 million over seven years to maintain an Australian workforce to support the delivery of Australia’s armed nuclear power submarines. This will include support scholarships for undergraduate students in the relevant STEM courses. So, I guess there is a plus side if you support the use of nuclear energy in Australia. 

Overall, it was a budget. With some good steps in the right direction, however, there is still a lot of room to grow and only time will tell how it will function over the next year.  

QUT Student Guild
QUT Student Guild
Articles: 24

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