Date : 07 May 2021
Location : Australia

Universities in Australia are calling in for a Hecs-style loan scheme to cover "micro-credentials" in order to allow people to upskill by taking short courses. Loans for short courses in areas such as bushfire preparedness or digital health could better prepare Australians for potential emergencies while also assisting the university sector in recovering from years of lost revenue due to the pandemic.

The Higher Education Loan Program (HELP), officially known as Hecs, should be expanded to include "micro-credentials," which are certifications that are not formal degrees or qualifications but are assessed and include supplementary or complementary learning.

“To overcome these financial constraints, the government should consider making non-award micro-credentials eligible for the higher education loan program. It makes schooling and training more affordable by eliminating the need to pay course fees in advance.”

During the bushfire and Covid crises, the universities said it had "never been clearer" that government support of science and experts was critical. The universities also want the federal government to increase long-term investment in university education and provide adequate funding for state and territory plans to bring foreign students back to Australia. To deal with the pandemic, the government provided universities with an additional $1 billion in research funding in 2020, but UA has requested that the government raises its “long-term” research spending.

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