New National Higher Education Student Protection Measures


New national higher education student protection measures have recently commenced, including new student identifier requirements.

Education Legislation Amendment (2020 Measures No. 1) Act 2020 (Cth)

Higher Education Support Amendment (Job-Ready Graduates and Supporting Regional and Remote Students) Act 2020 No. 93 (Cth)

This article applies to higher education providers.

Provisions of the Education Legislation Amendment (2020 Measures No. 1) Act 2020 (Cth) (the Measures Act) and the Higher Education Support Amendment (Job-Ready Graduates and Supporting Regional and Remote Students) Act 2020 No. 93 (Cth) (the Job-Ready Act) commenced on 1 January 2021 and have amended the Higher Education Support Act 2003 (Cth) (the HES Act).

Unique Student Identifier changes

Higher education providers should be aware that the Measures Act has amended section 36-10 of the HES Act to prohibit a higher education provider from advising a person that he or she is a Commonwealth supported student in relation to a unit of study unless (if the census date for the unit is on or after 1 January 2021 and before 1 January 2023 and the person commenced the course of study on or after 1 January 2021); or (if the census date for the unit is on or after 1 January 2023), the person has a student identifier immediately before the census date.

Further Student Protection Measures

Higher education providers should be aware that the Job-Ready Act has introduced new student protection measures under the HES Act which affect higher education providers. These new measures include:

  • new section 36-12 of the HES Act, which puts in place a study load limit on Commonwealth supported students. Under this section a higher education provider must not advise a person that they are a Commonwealth supported student in relation to a unit of study (the ‘new unit’) if the total EFTSL value of all the units the student has studied during the preceding 12 month period (for which the person was or would be entitled to HECS-HELP assistance or FEE-HELP assistance but for the previous operation this new section), plus the new unit, is more than 2.
  • section 36-15 of the HES Act has been amended to prohibit a higher education provider from advising a person that they are a Commonwealth supported student in relation to a unit of study if the provider has completed any part of the person’s request for Commonwealth assistance for the unit (or the course for which the unit forms a part) that the person themselves is required to complete.
  • section 96-5 of the HES Act has been amended to provide that, if a person’s HELP balance is re-credited with an amount relating to HECS-HELP assistance for a unit of study, the higher education provider must pay to the Commonwealth an amount equal to the amount of HECS-HELP assistance to which the person was entitled for the unit.
  • new sections 97-45 and 97-50 of the HES Act specify two new situations where a student’s HELP balance must be re-credited, specifically:
    • section 97-45 provides that a higher education provider must, on the Secretary’s behalf, re-credit a person’s HELP balance with an amount equal to the amounts of HECS-HELP assistance that the person received for a unit of study if the provider completes any part of the request for Commonwealth assistance in relation to the unit that the person is required to complete.
    • section 97-50 provides that a higher education provider must, on the Secretary’s behalf, re-credit a person’s HELP balance with an amount equal to the amounts of HECS-HELP assistance that the person received for a unit of study if the provider or the Secretary is satisfied that the person was not entitled to receive HECS-HELP assistance for the unit of study with the provider.

Conclusion

Higher education providers should inform relevant staff of the changes discussed above to ensure compliance with these new changes.


Contact

For further information please contact the Law Compliance team:

Phone: 1300 862 667

Email: info@lawcompliance.com.au