SCOTT Bowman has voiced support for privatising university HECS debt after Education Minister Christopher Pine floated the idea during Q&A on Monday.

The Vice-Chancellor at CQUniversity said he would accept the idea, as long as there were safeguards to avoid scaring off future tertiary students. In fact, he said if a financial institution took over the debt, which was reportedly $23 billion, it might even encourage more people to go to university.

"I think when you have a debt like HECS on the government balance sheet it looks like a liability so they're likely to put a ceiling on that," he said.

"If you see it on the balance sheet of a bank it looks like more of an asset."

He said if the debt was privatised, safeguards would have to include measures that are currently in place, like ensuring graduates only paid back debt when they earned a certain annual amount.

But he also said if banks controlled the debt they would be in a better position to reclaim money from graduates who headed overseas and were currently not liable for repayments.

"I think if it was run properly it could even encourage more people to enter tertiary education," he said.

Labor's higher education spokesman Kim Carr said such a move would increase costs for students.



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