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HECS to increase for maths and science degrees
In bad news for potential maths and science students, the Australian Government has announced that, from 1 January 2013, university courses in the fields of mathematics and science
will no longer be classified as a National Priority.
The government will reinstate mathematics and science as Band 2 studies, which will now require a maximum student contribution of approximately $8353 instead of the $4691 National Priority contribution.
According to Senator Chris Evans, the government is reinstating Band 2 rates because the lower student contribution amount has not increased the number of students studying these low-demand fields.
“The reduction in student contributions for mathematics, statistics and science units since 2009 has not been effective in substantially increasing the number of students undertaking maths and science at university,” he said.
“Students are predominantly motivated not by price but by their interests, abilities and career preferences when selecting courses”.
This stance has been supported by the Bradley Review of Higher education, which found that student demand was not impacted by lower student contribution incentives and that demand for education and nursing courses actually increased since they lost National Priority status.
The government is still providing incentives for students to study mathematics and science at university through the HECS-HELP benefit for maths and science graduates :
- People who graduate from a natural and physical sciences course with a HECS-HELP debt and work in a relevant field of study can have their compulsory repayments reduced by more than $1600.
- Eligible graduates who work as a maths or science teacher may qualify for both the HECS-HELP benefit for maths and science graduates and the HECS-HELP benefit for teachers, and can have their compulsory repayments reduced by more than $3200.
Who is affected?
- Students who enrol in mathematics and science courses before 31 December 2012 will not be affected by this change, but students who enrol after 1 January 2013 will be subject to the higher contribution amount.
- Australian Taxation Office website — HECS-HELP benefit for maths and science graduates
- Study Assist website — maths and science study incentives
- Ministers' Media Centre media release — Band 2 student contribution reinstated for maths and science