What's been happening in the education sector?

What's been happening in the education sector?

It can be hard to keep up with everything that’s happening in the education sphere, especially when you’re busy with study commitments. We’ve put together a brief run-down of what you need to know.

Government defends real interest on HELP loans

Federal Minister of Education Christopher Pyne has defended applying ‘real’ interest to Higher Education Loan Programme (HELP) loans, saying that higher interest (around six per cent, compared to the CPI of roughly 2.9 per cent) will encourage students to repay their debts earlier. While this is good news for the government and the sustainability of the HELP scheme, it’s not such great news for graduates earning below the minimum repayment threshold — forecasted to sit at around $50,000 in the 2016–17 financial year. The most recent Course Experience Questionnaire (CEQ) survey (see ‘Career opportunities’ in our Fields of study section) shows that typical graduate salaries in accounting, agriculture, architecture, communications, creative arts, pharmacy, psychology, sport and leisure, tourism and hospitality, and veterinary science all fall short of $50,000 for bachelor degree graduates in their first full-time role.

Internships under scrutiny

Internships are seen to be a rite of passage in many fields, but unpaid work has come under fire after it was revealed that some young people are being charged up to $2000 to gain work as unpaid interns. Experts have voiced concern over the potential exploitation of students and jobseekers, while pushing for tighter regulations on unpaid work and the development of a national internship code of practice. See the Fair Work Ombudsman website for more information about unpaid work. Chat to your school or institution career adviser before taking on unpaid work experience.

Extension of the New Colombo Plan to include 35 countries in the Indo-Pacific region

The New Colombo Plan is an initiative of the federal government that provides funding for Australian undergraduate students to undertake study in the Indo-Pacific region, with the intention of strengthening the relationship between Australia and its neighbouring countries. The federal government has committed $100 million in funding over five years, offering prestigious scholarships and mobility grants for study and work experience. This year, during the program’s pilot phase, students have travelled to Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan and Singapore. In 2015, the New Colombo Plan will be extended to include 35 countries in the region, including China, India, Pakistan, Taiwan and Vietnam. See the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website for more information, including a full list of participating countries.

Apprenticeship and traineeship commencements falling

With skill shortages in many trades (see the National Skills Needs List for details), there are still too few young people taking up apprenticeships and traineeships. Data from the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) shows that there were 386,800 apprentices and trainees undertaking training in March 2014, which is a drop of 12.4 per cent from March 2013. If you are interested in starting an apprenticeship or traineeship, read more in our Study options section.

Youth unemployment on the rise

With Australia’s overall unemployment rate on the rise (currently sitting at around 6.1 per cent, compared to four per cent six years ago), it’s no surprise that young people are losing out on jobs. The unemployment rate for young people aged 15 to 24 is currently roughly 15 per cent, with analysis by the Brotherhood of St Laurence showing that there are certain youth unemployment ‘hot spots’. Cairns and parts of Tasmania experienced youth unemployment rates above 20 per cent in the year leading up to January 2014, with similarly high rates in northern Adelaide (19.7 per cent), outback Northern Territory (18.5 per cent) and Victoria’s Hume region (17.5 per cent). Read more on the ABC News website.

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