Everything university students need to know about the 2018 Budget

By Giorgina McKay | @ggmckay11

Treasurer Scott Morrison announced the 2018/19 Federal Budget before Parliament on Tuesday night.

Mr Morrison’s third budget promises to tackle five major areas: tax relief, businesses and job growth, essential services, Australian security, and government finance.

But what’s in store for university students?

Education

  • It is predicted the government will spend $7.3 billion between 2020–21 to continue funding increases for universities with yet-to-be determined performance criteria.
  • The government will also reduce the number of places for Commonwealth-funded diplomas, associate degrees, and postgraduate coursework.
  • The Budget has confirmed a $100,000 lifetime cap on borrowing under the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP), with exceptions for courses in medicine, dentistry and veterinary science, as well as for students who have repaid some of their debt.
  • In line with initiatives outlined in the 2017/18 Budget, regional communities will receive $28.2 million to expand access to sub-bachelor programs.
  • $14 million will fund additional places for bachelor students studying in regional study hubs
  • Another $96 million over four years will create 700 extra student places for young people from regional areas.

 

Jobs

  • It is expected the strength in the economy and jobs market will continue to increase from the 415,000 new jobs recorded in 2017.
  • $26 million will establish a national space agency to create more jobs and continue Australia’s participation in the global space economy.
  • A $15 million international space investment will provide grants for projects that generate employment and business opportunities for Australians.
  • $140 million will go towards attracting big-budget film productions to Australia, supporting local jobs in film-related industries and securing Australia’s position as one of the world’s leading film destinations.
  • The government will build on the $1.1 billion previously invested through the National Innovation and Science Agenda to retain and attract the best researchers, entrepreneurs and scientists to Australia.
  • $125 million will also go towards new research to support one million people with mental illness.

 

Health

  • It is expected health funding will increase from $78.8 billion in 2018–19 to $85 billion in 2021–22.
  • $154.3 million will go towards encouraging and supporting Australians to adopt healthier and more active lifestyles.
  • An increase of $338 million will go towards mental health funding, with a focus on suicide prevention, research, and older Australians.
  • Support services such as Lifeline and SANE Australia will also receive $33.8 million to enhance telephone crisis services and create a suicide awareness campaign.
  • A new Medical Industry Growth Plan will receive $1.3 billion to fund genomic research projects that investigate medicines that can be tailored to individual patients, clinical trials of new drugs and development of new medical technologies.
  • The Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) and Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) will receive a further credit of $35.3 billion, up from last year’s $34.4 billion.
  • New and amended items have been added to the MBS, including cystic fibrosis testing, 3D breast screening and MRI tests for prostate cancer.
  • New and amended listings on the PBS will also receive $1.4 billion, including medicines to treat spinal muscular atrophy, breast cancer, relapsing‑remitting multiple sclerosis, as well as a new medicine to prevent HIV.

 

Technology

  • Around $2.4 billion will be invested into Australia’s public technology infrastructure, including supercomputers, satellite imagery, research into artificial intelligence, and a more accurate GPS.
  • $29.9 million will go towards growing Australia’s capabilities in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.
  • The National Broadband Network is estimated to be around 75 per cent complete by the end of 2018, with completion due by 2020.
  • The government will legislate a Consumer Data Right to give Australians the ability to have greater control of their personal data.

 

Finance

  • It is estimated that $176 billion will be spent on social security and welfare between 2018–19
  • The waiting period for newly-arrived migrants to access certain welfare benefits will increase to four years starting from 1 July 2018.
  • $316 million over four years will continue to transform Centrelink’s technology platform, and streamline the delivery of welfare payments.
  • A three per cent annual cap on fees will be applied to superannuation accounts with less than $6,000.
  • Exit fees on superannuation accounts will no longer apply.
  • The government will make it easier for students in regional areas to be considered independent through work by reducing the importance of the youth allowance parental income test.
  • The threshold and assessment period for the eligibility test will change, allowing students with parents who earn up to $160,000 to be eligible for support.
  • Young people in regional, rural and remote communities enrolling in university will also be able to easily access youth allowance payments while studying away from home.

 

Infrastructure & Agriculture

  • The Government will invest $75 billion into transport infrastructure over the next decade, with $24.5 billion of that going towardsnew projects and initiatives for every State and Territory.
  • $1.6 billion will fund improvements to the Adelaide North-South Corridor.
  • The government is investing an additional $1.9 billion in Australia’s national research infrastructure to help Australia remain globally competitive, and help businesses develop, grow and employ more people.
  • $130 million will upgrade the Department of Home Affairs’ ICT infrastructure for visa processing, identity management and threat analysis, to prevent and better detect offshore threats.
  • $200 million will go towards the third round of the Building Better Regions Fund, supporting regional infrastructure and community investments.
  • An additional $272 million will be invested into the Regional Growth Fund for larger regional infrastructure projects.
  • Extended funding of $6.3 million will be given to farmers to access a broader range of agricultural and veterinary chemicals.
  • Another $4.7 million will improve the collection of agricultural labour force data to better understand the struggles of farming businesses.

 

Foreign Aid

 

The 2018 Budget holds some promising opportunities for students, particularly those living in regional communities.

Funding for industries such as film production, space innovation and medical research, as well as new technology, could see the economy and job growth expand in the future.

Additional funding for mental health services, as well as greater access to financial services such as welfare and youth allowance, would also improve student health and wellbeing.

However, substantial changes to HELP and financial services for migrants could negatively impact some students.

Upgrades to infrastructure could also potentially affect students who rely on the public transport system.

 

Image Courtesy: News Limited

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