With the release of the 2016 federal budget on May 3rd, the deregulation of university fees is once again rearing its head. While the coalition has reportedly shelved deregulation in the short term, it is unlikely that the government has abandoned the idea altogether. Scared of coming under attack by Labor in advance of a possible election, the coalition has gone as minimal as possible in order to keep deregulation in their back pocket. In the interim, the Turnbull government is proposing to cut funding and charge students more.
Behind the scenes, education minister Simon Birmingham is reportedly considering a number of options in order to “refine and improve” the deregulation proposal that has twice failed to garner parliamentary support. One option on the table would allow universities to raise fees by as much as 25%. Does this signal the death knell of former education minister Pyne’s proposal to allow for unfettered fee deregulation, a plan that would have permitted universities to charge domestic students the same amount as international students?