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Labor uncaps education deductions

Max Chalmers reports on the latest developments in tertiary education policy

The Labor Party has revised tertiary education cuts announced earlier in the year by postponing a cap on tax deductable educational expenses. The cap would have prevented people from deducting more than $2000 of educational expenses (including course fees) per annum from their tax bill.

Though the cap received less media attention than the other savings measures – which included a ‘dividend saving’ that would have seen Universities lose $900 million across the country – Universities Australia and a host of interest groups had railed against the change. University of Sydney Provost Stephen Garton told Honi Soit when the policy was initially announced that capping the deductions would hurt postgraduate students trying to undertake work related study. This would ultimately cost the University financially because of lower enrollment rates and lost revenue, he argued. “It actually could have a really serious impact not just on University budgets but on the capacity of Australians to skill themselves up for different professions,” he said.

Universities Australia, the peak body for the nation’s universities, had previously submitted a 22-page report to the Treasury which panned the cap as economically harmful. The organisation argued the cap would prevent people in the work force from returning to further studies and increasing their skill level and taxable income.

While Labor’s recent decision to defer the cap will bring some joy to university administrators around the country, it may be short-lived. The policy will be reconsidered in May 2014.

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