Higher Education Contribution Scheme (HECS)

Author name: 
Chapman, Bruce
Nicholls, Jane

The Higher Education Contribution Scheme (HECS) was the first national university policy in which tuition was collected through the tax system and dependent on the income of debtors. At the time of its introduction in 1989 HECS was a both controversial and novel initiative, with the financing reform process being accompanies by spirited and at times hostile argument. The paper documents and explains the political and economic context surrounding the introduction of HECS, and examines the views and activities of the major political groups engaged in the debate. We touch briefly on the role of the academic and research associated with the development of HECS, Systems of income contingent loans based on the Australian model are becoming commonplace internationally, a development which seemed very unlikely 25 years ago.

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