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According to the Australian Tax Office, three million Australians owe $74.4 billion in HECS fees (Bigstock)

Former Treasury Secretary Ken Henry has backed an urgent overhaul of the Higher Education Contribution Scheme (HECS) system, saying it is worsening the inequality gap between younger Australians and older generations. Source:

Dr Henry said young Australians were being priced out of the housing market while also being expected to pay more in tax and student debt, on top of picking up the tab for the costs of climate change.

“There’s unfairness affecting young people almost wherever you look,” Dr Henry said.

“And so the fact young people are burdened with HECS debt on top of all the other things that I’ve already mentioned – that is demonstrably unfair.”

HECS debts were indexed by 7.1 per cent in June last year, meaning many Australians paid more than their mandated repayments due to interest.

According to the Australian Tax Office, three million Australians owe $74.4 billion in HECS, with an average debt of $24,700.

Independent MP Monique Ryan is leading calls to change the way indexation is measured.

Her petition – which launched last month – has already garnered more than 236,000 signatures.

“It’s an urgent issue and it’s something the Government really needs to take action on in the May budget,” Ms Ryan said.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers has confirmed the federal Government is considering all of the recommendations made by the Universities Accord, a 12-month review of Australia’s higher education system led by a panel of eminent Australians .

Dr Chalmers acknowledged the HECS system is “not perfect”.

“If we can afford to do more to help more students into university and TAFE, obviously that’s something we’re prepared to consider,” he said.


Pressure mounts on federal Government to overhaul HECS system (By Claudia Vrdoljak and Andrew Probyn,