Federal Budget 2024: Albanese Government’s ambitious plan for 8 in 10 Aussies to get tertiary qualifications

Bethany Hiatt
The Nightly
2 Min Read
Here’s how Australia’s education sector will fare in the Budget.
Here’s how Australia’s education sector will fare in the Budget. Credit: The Nightly

An ambitious target for eight in 10 Australians to attain a tertiary qualification by 2050 will cost taxpayers $1.1 billion over five years, Federal Budget papers reveal.

Higher education reforms have been lumped under the Albanese Government’s ‘Future Made in Australia’ agenda, with upskilling the workforce considered a key way to modernise the economy and drive productivity growth.

To achieve its targets, the Government will commit $1.1 billion over five years, plus another $2.7 billion from 2028-29 to 2034-35, for the first stage of reforms to Australia’s tertiary education system.

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Treasurer Jim Chalmers said the Albanese Government would “seize the transformative opportunities” of a more modern economy to expand tertiary education to more people.

“We are setting a national target of eight out of 10 workers achieving a tertiary qualification by 2050 and backing it in with new funding reforms to meet this goal,” he said.

“Because it shouldn’t matter whether you live in the suburbs or the regions, whether your parents are rich or poor.

“The chance and the choice to go to university or TAFE should not be out of reach.

“We’re investing $350 million for fee-free uni-ready courses. These courses give those who would have missed out on studying a degree, a foot in the door.”

Budget papers also showed that a move to reduce student loan debts by around $3 billion by backdating changes to indexation of the HELP loans scheme – as revealed in a pre-Budget announcement – will cost $239.7 million over the next five years.

And another previously-revealed cost-of-living measure to pay $320 weekly to teachers, nurses and social workers completing their practical placements will add up to $427.4 million.

Around $27.7 million over four years will be allocated to improve collaboration between tertiary education sectors, including reforms to improve credit recognition for vocational education and training.

A $4.4 million investment in the next financial year aims to drive up demand for vocational education by increasing its appeal and extending awareness of fee-free TAFE courses.


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