The undertaking of public higher education in Australia is a popular option for domestic and international students alike. Students that qualify for CSPs (Commonwealth Supported Places) are able to pay a lower price for their tuition fees, however those that don’t qualify must pay a higher price. The Commonwealth government also provides loans to relieve the cost of education for applicable students.
This report analyzes undergraduate and postgraduate tuition fees across public Australian universities and how costs can vary across different subject clusters.
Top Australian tuition fee statistics
Student contributions to tuition fees are based upon the expected earnings of a student following their graduation and vary depending on the course undertaken. For each unit of study, higher education providers commonly set student contribution amounts to match a maximum figure set by the government.
- As of 2023, the highest CSP student contributions for undergraduate degrees are priced at 15,142 AUD per year.
- This amounts to an estimated 47,034 AUD for a 3-year degree accounting for inflation.
- The lowest CSP student contributions for undergraduate degrees are priced at 4,124 AUD per year.
- This amounts to an estimated 12,809 AUD for a 3-year degree accounting for inflation.
- Since 2021, CSP student contribution caps have increased by between 4.41% to 4.43%.
- As of 2023, the Australian government pays a 7.04% subsidy toward the cost of cluster 1 degrees for CSPs.
- The government pays a subsidy ranging from 62.50% to 87.24% towards the cost of degrees in other clusters for CSPs.
- International undergraduate students not eligible for a CSP can typically expect to pay between 20,000 AUD to 45,000 AUD annually for standard courses.
Australian undergraduate CSP student contribution caps
At undergraduate level, CSPs are offered to all domestic students at Australian public universities. Through this scheme, the government pays a portion of the student’s tuition fees as a subsidy, which does not have to be paid back at a later date.
As the subsidy does not cover the entire cost of a student’s course, the remaining difference is called the “student contribution amount”, for which the student is liable. In total, each student is offered a total of 7 years full-time subsidized study through the CSP scheme.
- As of 2023, Cluster 1 degrees have the highest maximum annual student contribution amounts (15,142 AUD).
- Cluster 2 and Cluster 3 degrees range from 4,124 AUD to 8,301 AUD.
- Cluster 4 degrees range from 4,124 AUD to 11,800 AUD.
- For the given period, fees have increased by between 4.41% to 4.43% for all clusters.
- International students not eligible for a CSP will be expected to pay a significantly higher price for their undergraduate degree.
- Typically this can range from 20,000 AUD to 45,000 AUD annually for standard courses.
Student contribution amounts are shown annually. Each equivalent full-time student load unit is multiplied by the annual rate to reach the required student payment.
|Cluster 1||Law, Accounting, Administration, Economics, Commerce, Communications, Society and Culture||14,500 AUD||14,630 AUD||15,142 AUD|
|Cluster 2 (a)||Education, Postgraduate Clinical Psychology, English, Mathematics or Statistics||3,950 AUD||3,985 AUD||4,124 AUD|
|Cluster 2 (b)||Allied Health, Other Health, Built Environment, Computing, Visual and Performing Arts, Professional Pathway Psychology or Professional Pathway Social Work||7,950 AUD||8,021 AUD||8,301 AUD|
|Cluster 3 (a)||Nursing, Indigenous and Foreign Languages||3,950 AUD||3,985 AUD||4,124 AUD|
|Cluster 3 (b)||Engineering, Surveying, Environmental Studies or Science||7,950 AUD||8,021 AUD||8,301 AUD|
|Cluster 4 (a)||Agriculture||3,950 AUD||3,985 AUD||4,124 AUD|
|Cluster 4 (b)||Pathology||7,950 AUD||8,021 AUD||8,301 AUD|
|Cluster 4 (c)||Medicine, Dentistry or Veterinary Science||11,300 AUD||11,401 AUD||11,800 AUD|
A graph is given below to show Cluster 1 annual price increases over time:
A graph is given below to show Cluster 2 annual price increases over time:
A graph is given below to show Cluster 3 annual price increases over time:
A graph is given below to show Cluster 4 annual price increases over time:
Total Australian undergraduate CSP student contribution caps
- As of 2023, the highest total 3-year CSP student contribution amount is estimated at 47,034 AUD.
- The lowest total 3-year CSP student contribution amount is estimated at 12,809 AUD.
- The highest total 4-year CSP student contribution amount is estimated at 63,822 AUD.
- The lowest total 4-year CSP student contribution amount is estimated at 17,379 AUD.
|Funding cluster||3-year CSP student contribution||4-year CSP student contribution|
|Cluster 1||47,034 AUD||63,822 AUD|
|Cluster 2 (a)||12,809 AUD||17,379 AUD|
|Cluster 2 (b)||25,782 AUD||34,983 AUD|
|Cluster 3 (a)||12,809 AUD||17,379 AUD|
|Cluster 3 (b)||25,782 AUD||34,983 AUD|
|Cluster 4 (a)||12,809 AUD||17,379 AUD|
|Cluster 4 (b)||25,782 AUD||34,983 AUD|
|Cluster 4 (c)||36,653 AUD||49,736 AUD|
Australian postgraduate degree tuition fees
For postgraduate degrees in Australia, CSPs are much less common and offered sparingly to students. As they rely on government funding, the number of CSP places changes each year. Due to this, their allocation is based on the academic merit of qualifying students.
- The majority of domestic postgraduate students study in a full fee-paying place, due to the limited availability of CSPs.
- Postgraduate master’s degrees can range from 22,000 AUD to 50,000 AUD annually.
- Doctoral degrees can range from 20,000 AUD to 42,000 AUD annually.
- These postgraduate estimation ranges do not include medical and veterinary courses, which can cost significantly more.
- Furthermore, prices for international postgraduate students can be even higher.
Timeline of key events
- During the 1970s there was a concerted effort to make higher education in Australia more accessible to Australians of a working-class or middle-class background.
- In 1974, tuition fees were abolished by the Whitlam Labor Government.
- Due to an increased participation in higher education, the Hawke Labor Government began reintroducing university tuition fees in 1989.
- This was known as the Higher Education Contributions Scheme (HECS), requiring all university students to contribute an annual sum of 1,800 AUD, with the Commonwealth paying the balance.
- During 1996, the Howard coalition government created a three-tier structure where tuition fees could be charged based on the perceived value of courses.
- HECS charges were also increased by 40% on average.
- By 2007, HECS became known as CSPs, allowing a maximum of 7 years full-time studies at reduced rates for students enrolled in the scheme.
- These discounted years are known as a student learning entitlement (SLE).
- However, this changed again in 2012, allowing CSP students to continue studying at reduced rates following 7 years of full-time study.
- In 2017, university funding was to be reduced by 2.5%, increasing fees by between 2,000 AUD and 3,600 AUD for 4-year courses.
- SLEs were reintroduced in 2022.
Australian university tuition fees FAQ
Who sets university tuition fees in Australia?
- University tuition fee limits in Australia are set by the Australian government.
- Higher education institutions are able to set the student contribution limit for each unit of study, within the max range set by the government.
- Institutions almost always charge the highest allowable amount, due to government underfunding.
What are clusters in Australian higher education?
- For higher education, fields hosted in Australia are divided into different clusters.
- Each cluster has a different max fee limit for the fields contained within.
- Some clusters also contain multiple groupings.
Why are clusters used in Australian higher education?
- Clusters allow the labor market to be viewed in a new way, by showing how skills are relatable and connected without just considering which occupations they may lead to.
- By splitting fields into clusters, each field can be grouped in accordance with their broadly transferable skills.
- As a general rule, students that are talented in one field within a cluster are likely to perform better in the other fields it contains.