SYDNEY — After more than a year studying theory in a classroom, the aviation students at the University of New South Wales were set to begin their first day of flight training, at Bankstown Airport here on a winter day late last month.
They ran through their pre-takeoff checklists, making sure everything was in order. But one thing they can worry less about is the balance of their bank accounts.
The university, a public institution, began offering flying lessons as an accredited graduate diploma in June, which means that students can now take government loans to finance their flight training.
Previously, only the academic part of the degree was eligible for the loans. Flying lessons, aircraft rental and licensing, which can add up to more than 100,000 Australian dollars, or about $101,000 were additional costs that had to be paid upfront.
Jason Middleton, the head of aviation at the university, said the move would broaden access for students with “a lower socioeconomic support base,” even though they would still have to pay approximately 40,000 Australian dollars in upfront fees.
The University of New South Wales joins a growing number of Australian universities offering the government’s Higher Education Loan Program, known as Fee-Help, for flight training.
Experts have been warning of a potential shortage of pilots in the Asia-Pacific region and industry groups are struggling to attract young people to the profession.
The secretary general of the International Civil Aviation Organization, Raymond Benjamin, said in a speech last year that there could be a global shortage of 160,000 pilots worldwide over the next 20 years.