Three full days a week from my schedule are spent at university. This does not include the copious amount of hours behind the scenes completing assignments, following up on readings and balancing study with many thoughts and priorities on my mind. Needless to say, university consumes a large proportion of my life right now. With out a doubt I can also say that university consumes a lot of other students minds too.
With university being a prominent theme in many peoples lives, as well as my own, it is only fitting that I focus my research report on a topic so familiar to myself and many others – university.
The main question to be answered in the report is “does awareness of HECS play any part in enrolment decision-making? How?”. The aim of this research project is to discover whether awareness of HECS plays a role in enrolment decision-making for students and the effects of tuition repayments. The need for this research report is to gain insight on how and why students select their education payment methods and what influences how money is repaid.
As I have not attempted this sort of research project before there are several elements that I must wrap my head around. Below is my current plan of attack, which also includes brief information and links to make it easier for myself to access and refer to throughout the duration of the project:
- Touching up on what HECS is, who is eligible to receive it and how the government is involved in the scheme. A valuable source to answer these questions is the Australia Study Assist site.
- Why focus on tuition fees? Justify this by finding statistics from the ABS about how many students rely on HECS, versus how many students pay up front (and several other payment methods). Highlight how this is an important topic as x amount of students rely on tuition payment assistance (hopefully will find a potential source for this figure).
– With “the average amount of study loan debt (in 2011-12 dollars) among households with this form of debt was similar in 2003-04 ($13,900) and 2005-06 ($14,900) before increasing to $17,300 in 2009-10 (ABS 2016)” it is clear that tuition fees and debts is an issue worth researching. “This amount of debt stayed the same in 2011-12 ($17,200)” (ABS 2016).
With so many people attending university and relying on this average amount of HECS debt, it is relevant to find out if this debt figure represents decisions made about enrolment. Tuition fees accounts for a large amount of debt for many students. This is an issue for many of students and it is important that this is made aware of and brought to light. Since it impacts so many students it is a topic worth discussing.
- Possibly note how student tuition fees are a large problem internationally too. To get a sense of the comparison, I will look up information on tuition debt in the US.
- Look at current HECS related issues within the media. This includes proposals to collect HECS debt repayments from deceased students. I have found several useful links so far on this topic, such as http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/collecting-hecs-from-the-dead-on-the-table-as-turnbull-government-searches-for-savings-20160317-gnl7kf.html and http://www.news.com.au/finance/economy/federal-budget/why-we-should-repay-our-hecs-debt-when-we-die/news-story/7a324e231b207160b490bf8df997b5ad .
– Another HECS issue in the media is the hysteria over introducing interest on student loans –> http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-05-27/is-charging-interest-on-existing-uni-loans-a-broken-contract/5464602
- Conduct wide search on how much unpaid HECS exists and how this works for the government. Upon finding the figures, highlight how this is not only a government problem, but also a student problem.
- From this point, shift the focus more so to students, and how HECS impacts on their decisions. Reach out to actual students to attain primary data. This can be achieved by interviewing students on their reasoning’s for their education payment method as well as surveying masses. Possible questions that can be used to interview students include:
– What are your thoughts on the HECS assistance? Do you have your fees covered by HECS? If so, why yes/no?
– Did you decide to pursue your university classes knowing you could rely on HECS debt?
– Did you pick your subjects based off their costs?
– Does relying on HECS and its increasing interest rates deter you wanting to study?
– Do you know where your HECS loan stands so far?
- Another method of collecting information in relation to HECS could be speaking to people who work in universities, and see what their take is on the scheme.
- Further helpful sources include the 2014-2015 Higher Education budget .
Overall the feasibility of this report topic is evident and available. Being a University student myself enables me to reach out to other students and contribute my own opinions and data. Being constantly surrounded by the university environment is an advantage to completing the report and will provide many opportunities to attain data and collect helpful information.