The majority disagreed with the main idea of the bill (in parliamentary jargon, they refused to give the bill a second reading). This means the bill is now rejected and won't be considered any more. Read more about this division in ABC News.
Main idea of the bill
The main idea of the bill is to introduce broad ranging changes to the higher education sector, including the three changes mentioned below.
1. Deregulating university fees
One of the most controversial aspects of the bill is that it will remove any restrictions on the amount that universities can charge students for tuition in Commonwealth Supported Places (CSPs). It is not known how much tuition fees would rise if this bill is passed and becomes law (read more in the bills digest).
2. Indexing HECS-HELP debt by ten year bond rate
The bill will also introduce new indexation arrangements for Higher Education Loan Programme (HELP) debts (also known as HECS-HELP debts). Currently, these debts are indexed by the Consumer Price Index (CPI). The bill proposes to index them by the generally higher ten year bond rate, with a cap at 6%.
3. Charging fees for postgraduate research degrees
Currently, postgraduate students in research degrees don't have to pay any tuition costs. The bill will allow universities to charge these students fees of up to $3,900 per unit for high-cost courses and $1,700 for low-cost courses.
Background to the bill
As part of its 2014-15 Budget, Prime Minister Tony Abbott's Government has announced a series of changes to government funding arrangements and this bill is part of those changes (read more in the bills digest).