Pyne reveals flexibility for planned higher education reform

THE Abbott government's plans to make future university students pay real interest rates could yet face defeat in the Senate.

Education Minister Christopher Pyne today gave the first public signal he was prepared to concede some ground on his controversial higher education reform package.

The centrepiece of the government's reform agenda, deregulating the university fee market and opening student debt up to real interest rates, is already under negotiation with key Senate crossbenchers.

Various modelling released since the budget has shown deregulation would hit lower income students with bigger and longer term debts than those from wealthier homes.

Mr Pyne, arguing the case for reform in Canberra, said he planned to introduce legislation to parliament in September, which will likely pass the lower house.

But he admitted that some parts of the changes, in particular the level of interest students pay on study debts, could be open for debate when the legislation comes before the Senate.

He said it would be "cowardly" not to reform the education system and leave it to a legacy of "mediocrity".

Mr Pyne said it would be immature for the government to walk away from its agenda "because we don't get 100% of everything we want".

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