Last June, Australians with a HELP debt were slugged with a hefty 7.1% increase on their loans. This came as a very unwelcome surprise to many students and graduates with debts.

While student loans do not attract interest, they are indexed to inflation. This is a bit of a non-event when inflation is low. But times have changed. Now students and graduates are anxiously waiting to see what will happen on the next indexation date on June 1. As higher education expert Andrew Norton notes, the indexation of student debt is “arguably the federal government’s biggest political problem when it comes to universities”.

The government is currently considering a recommendation from the Universities Accord final report to try and make indexation fairer. It proposes setting indexation at the lower of the Consumer Price Index (which measures inflation) or the Wage Price Index (which measures wage increases).

But Norton says the government should be looking at another option. As he explains: “While the WPI would have lowered indexation in recent years, in most years it is higher than CPI. This means students would not necessarily be better off.”

Instead, Norton suggests indexation should be the lower of the CPI or a fixed maximum rate of 4%. “[This] would better protect HELP borrowers against unpredictable increases in their student debt.”

Meanwhile, some areas of New South Wales have been declared natural disaster areas following flooding over the weekend. Residents have been evacuated and disaster assistance is being provided.

Atmospheric sciences expert Kimbereley Reid explains what has been causing all the rain. As she notes, “this is the exact weather set up that caused the devastating floods in Lismore and other places in February to March 2022”.

Judith Ireland

Education Editor

How do we protect students from ballooning HELP debts? A fixed maximum indexation rate would help

Andrew Norton, Australian National University

The indexation of student debt is arguably the federal government’s biggest political problem when it comes to universities.

Why is Australia’s east coast copping all this rain right now? An atmospheric scientist explains

Kimberley Reid, Monash University

You might be wondering: what is a ‘Black Nor'easter’, what’s causing all this rain and does it have anything to do with climate change? Here’s what you need to know.

In heavily militarised Kashmir, the upcoming India elections do not inspire much hope

Leoni Connah, Flinders University

Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledged major development projects in a visit to Kashmir last month. But many locals fear things will only worsen if the government is reelected.

A bumper Bluey episode is about to hit screens. 5 ways to get the most out of watching the show with your kids

Divna Haslam, Queensland University of Technology

In our house, we watch Bluey guilt-free. Here’s why.

Liberals will have difficulty forming government after final Tasmanian results

Adrian Beaumont, The University of Melbourne

While it was clear the Liberals were set to govern in minority weeks ago, the end of the vote count leaves the party with one less seat than expected, making forming government harder.

Kids and ‘bad’ news: how can parents safely introduce their children to news and current affairs?

Elise Waghorn, RMIT University

Most children will eventually consume news and current affair programs, but is there a way for parents to minimise the impacts of distressing media?

Why is Australia helping to block a move to tax multinational corporations properly?

Kerrie Sadiq, Queensland University of Technology; Richard Krever, The University of Western Australia

Australia has backed a move to ensure multinational corporations at least pay some tax in the countries in which they operate, but has baulked at going all the way.

Inquiry into supermarkets says make voluntary code of conduct mandatory but don’t bring in divestiture power

Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

Inquiry into supermarkets finds that the mandatory code should apply to supermarkets with annual revenues of more than $5 billion and should consider increasing infringement notice amounts.

50 years on, Advance Australia Fair no longer reflects the values of many. What could replace it?

Wendy Hargreaves, University of Southern Queensland

A national anthem is supposed to reinforce a nation’s identity. Are we fine with singing Advance Australia Fair for another 50 years?

The Southern Ocean has the cleanest air on Earth. We have just discovered why

Tahereh Alinejadtabrizi, Monash University; Steven Siems, Monash University; Yi Huang, The University of Melbourne

A lack of human activity in the Southern Ocean is just one reason why the air is so clean. Clouds and rain play a vital role in scrubbing the atmosphere, removing natural airborne particles too.

Villains, influencers and a sweet bisexual mechanic: Jodi McAlister’s rom-coms borrow and bend reality TV tropes

Beatrice Alba, Deakin University

Jodi McAlister is an expert in romance – and The Bachelor – in her day job. Her entertaining rom-com trilogy tells egalitarian stories of romance in the setting of a reality-TV dating show.

Why losing a parent when you’re a young adult is so hard

John Frederick Wilson, York St John University

A bereavement counsellor explains how to cope with the loss of a parent.

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