Occasional Paper Series

The Melbourne CSHE periodically publishes research through the CSHE Occasional Papers series. Each peer reviewed paper presents new research and analysis on topics significant for Australian and international higher education.

Occasional Paper #2023/05


The Interim Report of the Higher Education Accord includes the idea of a levy on international student fee income, that “could provide insurance against future economic, policy or other shocks, or fund national and sector priorities such as infrastructure and research” (Australian Government, 2023, p. 16). Proponents argue this could address sector-wide challenges such as concern that the government currently underfunds research and infrastructure.

A major issue facing the levy proposal is the impact that higher fees could have on demand from international students. Redistributing private students’ fees away from the providers in which they chose to study has implications for the perception of Australian higher education. Without transparency and accountability over the different purposes for which the funds are used, students might rightly ask whether they are receiving value for money, and why domestic full-fee students we not contributing. Were a levy to cause a major drop in Australia’s share of the international education market, it may ultimately be a self-defeating policy.

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