Christopher Pyne denies retreat on higher education plan It had been reported that the Coalition was willing to scrap some elements to help passage of university fee deregulation

Christopher Pyne

The education minister, Christopher Pyne, has denied reports the federal government is willing to scrap key measures in its higher education plan.

Fairfax reported on Friday that the government was planning to drop some elements of the planned changes, including the 20% funding cut and expanded funding for private colleges, in order to give the policy of deregulating university fees a better chance of passing the Senate.

Pyne told Channel 9 that the reports were not true.

“It’s news to me,” Pyne said. “It looks like a grab bag of wish lists from certain people but it certainly is not the government’s position.”

The government has signaled its willingness to negotiate on the changes, and speculation mounted earlier this month that it would drop a plan to increase interest rates on student debt.

“Our plan is to stick with the government’s approach but I’ve said all along we’ll negotiate,” Pyne said.

On Sunday, Pyne told Sky News he was “getting closer to an outcome” in his talks with crossbench senators.

Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese said it would amount to nothing.

“There’s no chance of these reforms getting through the Senate because they’re not fair,” he said.

“Whatever inducements the government might dangle in front of crossbench senators, fee deregulation would still mean a massive increase in costs for ordinary Australians who go to university,” Labor’s higher education spokesman, Kim Carr, said.

“The package remains rotten to the core and should be rejected in its entirety.”