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Forging ahead

The Australian Government has made major concessions on its controversial higher education reforms.

Plans to charge a real interest rate on student debts have been abandoned by the Australian government. Instead loans will remain pegged to the Consumer Price Index. A five-year interest-rate pause on student loans for new parents will also be introduced. The government has made the concessions in an attempt to pass legislation that would remove the cap on tuition fees for home undergraduates; the Senate will sit for three more days before the summer recess.

The compromises will cost several billion dollars over the next four years, significantly reducing the savings the government was trying to make from higher education. Christopher Pyne (pictured), the education minister, said the government is also “carefully considering other proposals from cross benchers” including setting up a targeted university transition fund, fee monitoring by the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission and targeting scholarships towards rural and regional students.

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