Policies and procedures

Policy No.
Financial Management
Authoring Organisational Unit
Academic Secretariat
Date Approved
25/09/2000 Revised 28/10/2019
Next Review Date
Approving Body
Academic Council

The University of Western Australia

University Policy on: Incidental Student Fees and Charges

Purpose of the policy and summary of issues it addresses:

This policy outlines the principles and requirements which govern the charging of incidental student fees and charges to students at UWA.

The purpose of the policy is to ensure:

  • compliance with relevant Commonwealth legislation;
  • the adoption of a consistent approach across the University; and
  • equity and fairness in the application of incidental student fees and charges.


the University means The University of Western Australia

HESA means the Higher Education Support Act 2003 (Cth)

DET means the Department of Education and Training

Policy statement:

1 Background

1.1 This policy and its application must be in adherence to:

  • The Higher Education Support Act 2003 [1] (HESA);
  • The Department of Education and Training (DET): Administrative Information for Providers on Incidental Fees [2]; and
  • The University of Western Australia's interpretations in relation to HESA (refer Section 7).

1.2 The University has discretion, within the provisions of HESA and DET's published guidelines, to determine its own policy, guiding principles, procedures and processes in relation to incidental fees and charges.

2 General principles

2.1 Commonwealth supported students and domestic fee-paying students generally must be able to complete the requirements of their course of study (this includes units whether compulsory or elective) without the imposition of fees that are additional to student contribution amounts or tuition fees except in the following circumstances:

  • for a good or service that is not essential to the course of study; or
  • for alternative forms of access to a good or service that is an essential component of the course of study, but is otherwise made readily available at no additional charge by the University; or
  • the fee is a fine or penalty, provided it is imposed principally as a disincentive and not in order to raise revenue or cover administrative costs; or
  • for a service imposed and charged by a third party (for example: first aid certificates, criminal record checks or immunisation costs); or
  • for an essential good or service that the student has the choice of acquiring from a supplier other than the University and is for:

(a) equipment or items that become the physical property of the student and that are not consumed during the course of study and have some value in use after graduation; or

(b) food and accommodation costs associated with the provision of field trips in Western Australia that are outside the metropolitan area that form part of the study; or

(c) food, travel and accommodation costs associated with the provision of field trips that are within the metropolitan area, interstate or overseas; or

(d) food, travel and accommodation costs associated with study abroad.

2.2 In making their assessment as to whether or not an incidental charge should be incurred by students, and if so at what level, the Head of School, the relevant Faculty Reference Group, and the /Executive Dean must take into consideration the following principles:

2.2.1 The key principle to be applied is that Commonwealth supported students and domestic fee-paying students must be able to complete their chosen award without facing course-related charges imposed by the University, within the context of HESA.

2.2.2 Schools must not discriminate between overseas fee-paying and domestic students at the point of imposing an incidental charge and as a result:

(a) an overseas fee-paying student must not be charged an incidental fee that this policy does not allow to be charged to a domestic student; and

(b) the course fee charged to an overseas fee-paying student must be calculated to be sufficient so as to avoid any discrimination.

2.2.3 Schools must consider the relationship between the service provided, the proposed charge, and the ability of the school to offer high-quality learning experiences.

2.2.4 Schools must consider the capacity of the average student to pay when considering the level of charges to be levied and to attempt to minimise all charges as a matter of policy.

2.2.5 Schools must consider the possible equity/access aspects of charging for what had been a free service - for example by the effective exclusion (due to the student's financial circumstances) of some students from the unit or from the service for which a charge is imposed.

2.2.6 Students must not be penalised if they elect not to purchase an item for which a charge is made, but tries to assemble the material or information in other ways.

2.2.7 Any item for which an allowable incidental charge is made under this policy must pass the test of facilitating superior teaching and learning practice.

2.2.8 Students must be provided with information about alternative free sources, where these are required under section 2.1.

2.3 Schools must make clear to all students (Commonwealth supported and fee-paying) prior to enrolment, through Handbooks etc. if incidental fees are likely to be incurred if they elect to enrol in a particular unit, and provide the details of specific incidental fees and charges to enrolled students by inclusion in unit outlines.

2.4 The Executive Dean must monitor overall practice within their faculty to ensure that the cumulative effect on students is equitable and reasonable.

2.5 Some goods or services may remain, until such time as the University specifies otherwise, at no charge to students, even though a charge is allowable under HESA.

3 Requirements for levying a fee or charge

3.1 Schools must not make a charge for a good or service which is in excess of the actual cost of the good or service.

3.2 Schools must not require students to pay general unspecified fees or charges.

3.3 Goods or services for which a charge is levied may, if necessary, contain a component for which a charge or fee is not allowed on condition that the non-chargeable component is included at no cost to the student.

3.4 Each Faculty must utilise a relevant reference group or committee which includes student representatives to review proposed charges and recommend approval/disapproval to the Executive Dean in accordance with HESA and this policy.

3.5 The relevant Executive Dean must approve any incidental fee or charge prior to its implementation in accordance with this policy, after considering the recommendation of the relevant reference group or committee. referred to in 3.4.


4 Bonds and Deposits

4.1 The University must not require or accept bonds and deposits related to the payment of tuition fees (whether refundable or not), as such bonds and deposits are not allowed under HESA on the basis that HELP ensures that there are no financial barriers for entry to higher education for those students unable to pay upfront for the cost of their tuition.

5 Willingness of students to accept a charge

5.1 Schools must not negotiate with a student(s) in relation to charges which would otherwise not be allowable, as a student's willingness to accept a charge has no relevance to whether or not a charge is allowable.

6 Student Complaints

6.1 A student, or group of students, who considers that they have been charged a fee contrary to the Higher Education Support Act, this policy, or any principle that must be taken into account, may register a complaint as follows:

  • first, with the Head of School, in either a formal or informal manner;
  • second, if not satisfied with the resolution by the Head of School, formally in writing, with documentary evidence, with the Executive Dean and
  • third, if not satisfactorily resolved at that level, formally in writing with at least the same documentary evidence to the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Education).
  • 6.2 By delegation of the Vice-Chancellor, the decision of the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Education) is final.

6.3 A student may elect to have the Guild represent them, and/or may be accompanied to any meeting by a person provided by the Guild.

6.4 An Executive Dean or the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Education) may elect to consider the complaint entirely on the basis of the documentation or may elect also to meet with the student

7 Related Information

7.1 The following documents may assist in determining whether a fee or charge can be levied for goods or services:

(a) Proposed Incidental Student Fees and Charges: University Interpretations

(b) Incidental Student Fees and Charges Flow Chart

(c) Examples of Incidental Fees that Align with the University Policy

Related forms: (Link)

TRIM File No:


Contact position:

Pro Vice-Chancellor (Education)

Related Policies or legislation:

[2] AIP :- Section 18. Incidental Fees -