The Australian Vice-Chancellors' Committee (AVCC) has today called on the Government to review the current arrangements for FEE-HELP.
AVCC Chief Executive Officer John Mullarvey said that Vice-Chancellors have long argued that the current cap on FEE-HELP is unrealistic and should be lifted.
"A student who wishes to attain more than one qualification under the FEE-HELP scheme should have the capacity to do so, and FEE-HELP should be amended to allow this," Mr Mullarvey said.
"Following the recent announcement by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) on 17 February 2006 that the cap on FEE-HELP will be lifted from $50,000 to $80,000 for medical students, the AVCC believes it is time to revisit the issue and extend the cap more broadly.
"Raising the cap to $80, 000 for medical students will still mean that students completing many full fee paying courses will not be able to use FEE-HELP to meet the full cost of their course," he said.
"The AVCC does not believe there needs to be a cap on the amount a student can access under FEE-HELP. Students should be given the opportunity of judging the level of debt that they are comfortable with, and would be able to repay on completion of their studies.
"It is also reasonable that all students have the same access to loans regardless of which course of study they choose, without prescribing a limit on FEE-HELP depending on the course of study," Mr Mullarvey said.
"The AVCC believes that a potential student, any student, who has an interest in studying higher education,should have the opportunity to do so and have access to an income contingent loan to cover the cost of their studies, whether it is in a Government supported place, or full fee-based," he said.
"FEE-HELP is a scheme that provides any student with the opportunity to study by giving access to an income contingent loan that is the sole responsibility of that individual.
"FEE-HELP should remain, in principle, a scheme that promotes access and equity to higher education," Mr Mullarvey said.
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