Students who fail 50 percent of their classes after one year at the ANU will no longer be able to access a HECS-HELP or FEE-HELP loan to pay for their education. The change is part of the Australian government’s 2020 Job Ready Graduates program passed by the previous Liberal-National government.

This means that to continue studying, these students will have to pay the full upfront cost of their studies. See the table below for upfront course costs.


According to the ABC, these changes affect 2,500 students across the nation. At the ANU, this policy will impact 120 students next year.

It should be noted that 120 is the smallest number of students that will be affected at the ANU, as currently this number only includes first year and transfer students. As time goes on, the amount of students failing, or close to failing, 50 percent of courses, will only increase as time goes by.

Research has shown that students who face outsized consequences for failing are more likely to cheat, and to contract cheat in particular.

The ANU offers a range of courses, but has a large humanities cohort, more likely to be studying Band 4 fields. This means that the average impacted student at the ANU will likely pay the highest level of upfront fees.

The ABC article claimed that some students may be exempt from the upfront costs on the basis of exceptional circumstances, determined by individual universities. However, a spokesperson from the ANU claims that, “the University cannot apply exemptions.” But they went on to say that ANU will support students who “feel they need to make academic adjustments to pass their studies”.

Former Education Minister Dan Tehan justified the scheme as  preventing students with a low completion rate from accumulating debt with no qualifications to show for it, and to encourage universities and students to work together to ensure that the students are suitable for the course they are undertaking.

It is unclear why the current government supports the change, as they campaigned on a platform of more accessible education. They also criticised the Job Ready Graduates program as locking students out of higher education.

When asked what support the ANU plans to provide, a spokesperson said that, “…all students are given comprehensive academic support … includ[ing] an academic skills program and access and inclusion services …[and that] the university also provides a mentoring program, Set4ANU”.

The University added that “students who are concerned about their studies and ability to pass can speak confidentially with the Dean of Students as well as the Access and Inclusion team.”

The former President of the National Union of Students, Molly Willmott, criticised the policy in 2022:  “Limited access to study, financial instability, education quality, disability, and the ongoing crisis of mental health in the student body are just some of the impediments to student success”.

When asked if the ANU was concerned that these changes would disproportionately affect already marginalised students, ANU confirmed that it believes “the rule has the potential to further harm vulnerable students when they need understanding and compassion” and that, in no uncertain terms, “ ANU does not support the Jobs Ready Graduate Attributes 50 percent rule.”

Students concerned about the changes can access the following resources:




ANU Academic Skills


Access and Inclusion


ANU Dean of Students at

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