The annual cost of the student loans program to the budget is expected to blow out by a staggering 560 per cent over the next decade, according to a shock new report that will pave the way for major changes to the system in the upcoming budget.
The independent Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) projects the total value of the student loans program will grow from around $60 billion now to $180 billion by 2026 - a surge it attributes largely to the Coalition's policy to allow universities to set their own fees. The report will be used by the Turnbull government to justify significant higher education savings, including expected changes to the loans program, in the May 3 budget. The government is considering lowering repayment thresholds and increasing fees in a bid to stem the ballooning costs in the education portfolio.
Labor higher education spokesman Kim Carr said the report showed the government's policy of deregulating university fees was "fiscally reckless" and would undermine the HECS scheme.
"Today we see more evidence that the Liberals' plan to Americanise Australian universities is not only bad for students – it's also bad for the budget and bad for Australian taxpayers," he said.
The royal commission into child sexual abuse has triggered a fresh wave of litigation against Sydney private and Catholic schools.
Sydney lawyer Ross Koffel says he has filed 10 claims on behalf of abuse victims against elite schools, including De La Salle College Revesby Heights, Knox Grammar School, The Scots College and the previous administrators of Waverley College, and more are in the works.
Mr Koffel said he been contacted by multiple former students across Sydney before and after representing former Knox students at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse last year.