Attachment: CAPA Paper
The Postgraduate Education Loans Scheme (PELS) was enacted as part of the Innovation and Education Legislation Amendment on 30 August 2001. PELS is an income contingent loans scheme designed to assist students to cover the costs of the fees for postgraduate coursework courses, and is available from 2002 onwards to both commencing and continuing domestic students who are enrolled in a postgraduate coursework program at an Australian university.
Under the scheme, the fees for these courses are recouped via the HECS system. Those with an existing HECS debt or Open Deferred Payment Scheme (OLDPS) will have the PELS debt rolled in. The loan then becomes a part of the student’s tax liability and is handled by the Australian Taxation Office. PELS will have repayment conditions which are the same as those for HECS.
PELS will certainly improve the access to postgraduate courses for some people who had previously been excluded due to lack of funds available to pay the full up front fees. PELS may also significantly improve the conditions endured by some students currently in the system (who may be able to convert from part-time to full-time, for example, or reduce the significant pressure on those whose work while studying is primarily for the purpose of saving to pay fees). There are, however, a number of issues in relation to PELS which make it a less than perfect scheme.