Prove your humanity

The previous government’s Job Ready Package went into effect at the beginning of 2021. It aims to push students into specific degrees by subsidising the more ‘employable’ ones and hiking prices on the rest.

Science, engineering, and IT courses have seen the rewards of this legislation, which heavily favours STEM students and punishes humanities and social science students. In fact, the disparities are so inequitable that a nursing student can expect to pay $3,985 per year where a humanities student could pay more than $10,000 more–at a whopping $14,630.

This is a part of a growing trend in federal university funding. In 1974, the Whitlam government introduced free university. Since then, the subsidisation of university fees has slowly decreased. Now, funding from the Higher Education Contribution Scheme (HECS) and Commonwealth Supported Places (CSPs) are not sufficient for universities, who are growing increasingly dependent on income from lucrative international students. Australia is on track for an additional 100,000 university places by the end of the decade, all without additional funding.

Simultaneously, the Job Ready Package is furthering support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, as well as students living in rural areas. Indigenous studies are guaranteed a CSP, for one, so long as they meet the entry requirements of their desired course. For rural students, accessibility to tertiary education is set to increase as substantial funding for growth in regional campuses is offered.

Also implemented with the Job Ready Package are Completion Rate Requirements. If you have a CSP, a HECS-HELP loan, a FEE-HELP loan, or have begun a unit after the 1st of January 2022, you are subject to these requirements. If you fail to meet them, your federal assistance or university enrolment could be terminated.

First, students are expected to complete their units to a satisfactory level. If a student fails more than half of their first eight (or more) attempted units. This includes recognition of previous learning and withdrawn late or withdrawn fails. If you have withdrawn from a unit before the census date, it will not be counted towards your completion. Students also have a maximum of seven years within a CSP.

If you have a low completion rate, and are no longer eligible for your CSP or HELP loan, there are other options available to continue your study. These include paying the entirety of your course fees upfront, without governmental support. If you do this, and your completion rate improves to passing a minimum of 50% of your units, you will be able to reapply for a CSP.

Students with a low completion rate are also able to transfer to other courses within their current university or change universities altogether. At present, there are loopholes that allow students studying a degree and failing over half their units to begin the same degree at a different university, owing to the differing course codes between institutions.

Students in difficult circumstances may also provide an application for consideration to their loan provider. The provider will then look over the units you have requested be re-evaluated with these circumstances in mind, and decide whether or not these units can be disregarded when calculating your completion rate.

These circumstances must be beyond the student’s control, have not made their full impact until after the unit’s census date, and made it unfeasible to complete the unit. Examples of these circumstances include a new or worsening illness, death of a family member, serious illness of a family member, financial difficulties, changes to the employment of the student, changes made by the provider that disadvantages the student, and natural disasters. This list is not extensive and other circumstances beyond this are also considered.

In the likelihood that a student’s application is successful, the failing grades for the units considered will not be included in the calculation of their completion rate. The provider may also void the student’s HELP debt or refund upfront payments associated with the undertaking of the units.

If you aren’t eligible for a HELP loan, either due to your low completion rate or other unrelated eligibility reasons, the provider of the loan is unable to force you to pay your tuition costs once the loan is voided.

For more information regarding the Job Ready Package, visit Study Assist or Curtin’s Job Ready Package webpage. If you have more questions on how this impacts you, check out Curtin’s student FAQs, or contact Curtin Connect.