Coping with the Cost of Higher Education


In Australia, historically, the cost of higher education has not always been what it is now – and especially not what our government is trying to make it become. In this article, we’ll take a look at the history of higher education in Australia and give you some tips on how you can cope with the costs of it now.

Gough Whitlam

Gough Whitlam was seen by many as an incredible man because of the way he viewed education, especially higher education. When he said, in his 1972 pre-election speech, that “a student's merit, rather than a parent's wealth, should decide who should benefit from the community's vast financial commitment to tertiary education,” he vastly changed the educational landscape.

Yet what truly drew people to him was that he kept his promise and upheld his views.

In 1974, after his election, his government abolished university fees, instantly making it more accessible and open to the public. This change allowed many more women and working-class students to attend university, and his introduction of student income support, like Youth Study and AusStudy, further helped with this.

Malcolm Fraser

The system of free higher education stayed relevant throughout Fraser’s government, although he discussed reintroducing university fees many times through his time in office.

Bob Hawke

It was actually under Bob Hawke, 14 years after the free system had been introduced, that it was shut down. In its place, Hawke created a loan system which we now know today as the Higher Education Loan Scheme.

This involved students contributing to the cost of their own education, but in such a way that allowed students to still attend university without significant worry about their fees.


The costs of higher education have only risen after Hawke’s policy shift, but there are still many systems in place to allow students to feel supported and at ease financially while studying.

Fee Assistance

While Australia is no longer in the free scheme, this does not mean students will not be able to afford attending higher education. It simply means that they will have to consider the options and opportunities given to them and try their best.


This could come in the form of scholarships, which could help cover a significant amount of the fees that they pay. Students should seriously consider scholarships, as there are many different options and undoubtedly there is a scholarship for everyone.

Scholarships can truly help students get the most out of their learning.


Another option students have is to take a loan. These loans will vary from student to student, depending on what their individual situation is, but there are interest-free loans offered by the government to help with a variety of things. This includes textbooks, overseas travel, payment for study, and general study needs.

If students do not have the money to pay back the loans upfront, they can discuss payment plans with either their higher education provider, or with a Centrelink representative.


If you have any questions about TAFE and the courses we at Federation Training offer, or if you would like to discuss our fee assistance and how we can help you, feel free to contact us and we will be happy to assist you.