For the students, the 2013-14 Federal Budget means clarifying the cuts to higher education, announcing new research grants, and entrenching Government policy in regards to the Asian Century policies.
The Government announced a $96.7m increase in funding to the number of Commonwealth-supported post-graduate and sub-bachelor courses in priority areas of study. This amounts to approximately 1650 more places per year.
The Government is also increasing the number of grants between $2000 and $5000 for study exchanges to Asian countries, and for $1000 for preparatory courses in Asian languages.
There will be a $135.3m increase over five years to continue the Future Fellowships program under the ARC framework. This equals up to 150 additional four-year fellowships worth up to $211k per annum.
A reallocation of $159m from unspent monies to the Solar Flagships program is a welcome addition for Universities researching in the area.
In more energy news, the Government will be cutting $500m over three years from the Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) Flagships program, and a complete removal of funding from the Global CCS Institute.
There will be a $274m reduction over two years from 2015 for the Coal Sector Jobs package to reflect changes in the carbon price.
In the benefits sector, Minister for Human Services Senator Jan McLucas announced that the Government will save $67m by increasing Centrelink data-matching, by comparing records to PAYG summaries and ATO data. This is expected to catch an extra 19,000 non-compliant Centrelink clients.
Centrelink will be improving their service times by spending $30m more on call centre surge capability.
The cuts to the higher education sector were clarified, with the Budget confirming that there will be $277m worth of cuts over four years by removing the discount on voluntary HECS repayments and upfront payments of fees.
A further $900m over four years will be saved in efficiency dividends to all grants made to universities under the Higher Education Support Act.
Finally, the Student Start-up Scholarship will be converted to an income-contingent loan, saving $1.186b over five years. This will not affect current Youth Allowance and Austudy clients, as it only affects new recipients.
This budget was unremarkable for students, with more interesting changes announced in infrastructure and taxation. Especially of interest were plans to close tax loopholes especially in regards to international profit-shifting
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