Pyne says higher education reforms likely to pass by March

EDUCATION Minister Christopher Pyne has urged Labor to come to the negotiation table on his higher education reforms, as Senate crossbenchers were unlikely to back the package.

Mr Pyne told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday he still believed his reforms, now vastly different to the government's original proposals, were still likely to pass.

While he said he was in "no rush" to get them through parliament, he said he hoped to pass legislation to deregulate university fees in February or March this year.

But his concessions to some crossbenchers and universities, in dropping a 20% funding cut, may have turned previous crossbench supporters against the amended package.

Senator David Leyonhjelm told ABC Radio on Wednesday he supported deregulating the system, but not at the expense of the budget, and students should be prepared to pay their way.

Senator Leyonhjelm was one of four crossbenchers who supported the reforms, but Mr Pyne seems unlikely to change the minds of Palmer United Party senators or veteran Senator Nick Xenophon.

However, Mr Pyne said he would "consider" supporting further reviews of the higher education system, which Senator Xenophon proposed, if it meant he could get the legislation passed.

"I'm not going to speculate on what the government will or won't do, there is still a lot of water to go under the bridge before this is put back before the Senate," he said.

Mr Pyne said he wanted to meet with every party and independent senators to get the bill passed, but would not go ahead with it if it was too "adulterated" by non-government amendments.



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