The Australian Coalition government is unlikely to be able to resolve the deadlock over the higher education package with the move of cuts in funding and deregulation of fees stalled for by a year at least.
The New Education Minister
The newly appointed education minister Simon Birmingham conceded that start date for the new policies as 2016 January was not achievable. Birmingham also confessed that there is need for institutions and students alike to have certainty over the education path charted by the country and as such all future reforms and their legislation will not start till 2017 at the earliest.
He also announced at a summit for education at the prestigious University of Melbourne that the arrangements for funding of higher education will remain unchanged as of 2016 while the government makes further consultations on future reforms. He advised institutions for higher education and students to plan on the basis of current arrangements for 2016 as the financial intricacies will remain basically unchanged, duly indexed for inflation.
A Key Part of his Predecessors Agenda
The reforms were a key component of the predecessor for Birmingham, Christopher Pyne’s agenda. According to that particular higher education package there was to be a cut of 20% to the public subsidy for a bachelor’s degree on average and was scheduled to be put into effect from 2016.
Two variants of the legislation were blocked by the Senate due to the challenge posed by the Greens, Labor, and many cross-benches over them amidst the absence of any signs from the upper house to switch tracks. Pyne previously had given indications that it was his intention to push another bill before the year ends and showed openness towards changes and had also hired the services of a consultant to move forward.