Calls to cap student debt indexation after latest rise

Graduates paying back their university debt should be given guarantees their loans will not rise above a certain level, higher education experts say, after another spike in indexation.

Debt levels for HECS will increase by 4.7 per cent from June 1, following the release of official inflation figures that highlighted how stubborn prices pressures are.

While the figure is below the 7.1 per cent increase in the previous financial year, the June rise will be the second-largest hike to HECS debt in more than a decade.

The federal government has signalled it would implement changes to HECS indexation as part of the upcoming May federal budget and experts in the field have called for greater student relief.

Higher education policy professor Andrew Norton from the Australian National University said a cap was needed for HECS indexation to stop it being tied to inflation.

"It's designed to give people certainty, so when you take out a student loan, you will know in thinking about your future finances that indexation will never be more than four per cent," he told ABC Radio on Thursday

"Usually, it will be lower, and that just gives you confidence into the future."

A review of the higher education sector, known as the university accords, recommended changes to the HECS system.

Australian Treasurer Jim Chalmers
Treasurer Jim Chalmers says changes to HECS are being examined. (Darren England/AAP PHOTOS)

While the government response to the accord is yet to be unveiled, Treasurer Jim Chalmers said HECS changes were being examined.

"We acknowledge and recognise and understand the pressures that students and young people are under," he told reporters on Wednesday.

"If there's something that we can do on that front, in addition to the cost of living help that we are already providing, then we are prepared to consider that."

The average HECS debt is about $26,500, which means the average student debt will increase by more than $1250

The Greens have called for indexation on HECS debt to be scrapped altogether, with the party's education spokeswoman Mehreen Faruqi saying it was increasing cost of living pressures on students.

"Anything less than scrapping indexation in the May budget is a betrayal of students. It is obscene that Labor is making billions off students while handing big subsidies to the climate wrecking fossil fuel industry," she said.

"Ballooning student debt is hitting young people, women and renters the hardest, the same people who are being slammed by the cost of living and housing crisis."