Universities Australia says the government may be able to offset the impact of contestable budget measures – such as the deregulation of uni fees and increased costs to higher education – by recovering debts from students who’ve jumped ship after studying in Australia.
Universities Australia chief executive Belinda Robinson has suggested that Australia follow in the footsteps of the United Kingdom and New Zealand by implementing a debt recovery scheme targeting Australian university graduates living abroad.
“There are big licks of cash that can be found – we don’t believe it is as hard as has been made out,” Universities Australia chief executive Belinda Robinson said.
Robinson suggested recovering debts from overseas students would make other changes more tolerable and that it was unfair to burden new and current university graduates with higher fees and increased interest while others get a “free ride”.
The Grattan Institute has estimated that the government has the potential to obtain $177 million in additional revenue over the next two years.
Education Minister Christopher Pyne said he is negotiating a reciprocal agreement with the United Kingdom to “shut the loophole that allows Australian graduates living in the UK to avoid repaying their HECS debt to the Australian taxpayer.”
Earlier this year, Pyne floated the idea of recovering debts from deceased estates but Prime Minister Tony Abbott vetoed the proposal.