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HECS-debt architect defends scheme despite mounting national debt

Tom Elliott
Article image for HECS-debt architect defends scheme despite mounting national debt

One of the architects of Australia’s HECS (Higher Education Contribution Scheme) says “it’s working fine” despite a mounting national debt from unpaid university fees, and calls from the productivity commission for the federal government to go after the estates of dead students.

HECS was introduced in 1989 and only requires those who accessed it to repay the debt once they hit an income of $46,000.

Australian student debt currently sits at $58 billion.

Economist at the Australian National University and the architect of HECS, Emeritus Professor Bruce Chapman says the scheme was always intended to support those who didn’t do well.

“If it all doesn’t go very well for you, it doesn’t matter, the system was always designed to protect people who didn’t do well,” he told Tom Elliott on 3AW Drive.

“If you look at the rate of return to higher education… they’re very steady, very stable.

“So I think the proposition that $60 billion (debt) is horrendous is not well thought through.

“I don’t think it’s important that we’ve got a lot of debt, what’s important is whether or not you’re going to get the money back, and all the evidence suggests, quite strong, that this is going to come back, pretty much as it always did, about 80 to 85 per cent.”

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Tom Elliott
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