Recouping money from deceased estates and people living overseas is the answer to reeling in Australia’s growing student loan debt, a new report suggests.
The results of a Grattan Institute report released on Sunday say the federal government could make savings of more than $800 million a year as the cost of “doubtful debt” grows.
The government should stop writing-off debts when borrowers die and instead pursue payment when estates are worth more than $100,000.
And debtors living overseas should make an annual payment until their debt is cleared, the report said.
“A few targeted reforms could radically improve … finances and free up money for teaching and research, without creating hardship for students, graduates or their families,” Institute spokesman Andrew Norton said.
The Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) lends more than $6 billion a year to help finance study and the scheme is a great success, Mr Norton added.
But the Institute has found that the value of doubtful debt – loans that are unlikely to be repaid – is set to reach $13 billion by 2017.
Performing arts graduates along with their visual arts and craft colleagues are the least likely to repay in full student loans, the Institute said.
Graduates of commerce, education, nursing, science and humanities are the highest contributors to doubtful debt.
In 2013 Education Minister Christopher Pyne said the government would investigate selling $23 billion of Higher Education Contribution Scheme debt to the private sector to generate budget savings.
The move angered student unions which said higher repayments would follow.