Proposed changes by the Australian government could see New Zealand citizens studying at an Australian university being charged the full-fee rate, breaking the long-standing reciprocal arrangement between the two countries that allows students to study in each other's universities at the domestic fee rate.
Starting from January next year, New Zealand citizens and Australian permanent residents will be taken off the subsidised Commonwealth Supported Place (CSP) plan, and forced to pay full fees. The proposed changes will also allow more New Zealanders to be eligible for student loans from the Australian government.
Currently, both Kiwis and permanent residents are not eligible for student loans unless they fulfil very specific criteria - but should the proposed changes be approved, from next year most Kiwi and Australian students will be able to gain access to the income-contingent loans.
A package released to explain the changes says the loans mean both Kiwis and Australians won't have to pay fees upfront, and "ensures that the contribution [they] make to the Australian economy is recognised and supported".
Universities New Zealand has expressed its disappointment at the proposal.
"We oppose any move that would create a barrier to Australians and New Zealanders studying in each other’s countries," says executive director Chris Whelan.
Currently about 4600 Australian citizens are studying in New Zealand, including 1860 in universities, and over 10,000 New Zealand citizens study in Australian universities.
A 2013 Australian report comparing student loan arrangement between the two countries noted, “in general New Zealand provides better access to Australian students than Australia does to New Zealanders. This is an ongoing issue for New Zealanders resident in Australia.”
"Regardless of changes to the political environment, New Zealand universities will continue to welcome Australian students who choose to study in our eight world-ranked universities," says Whelan.
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