Ed­u­ca­tion cuts too deep

RE­FORMS WILL HURT HUN­DREDS OF STU­DENTS

Pinjarra Murray Times - - NEWS -

THE Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment’s pro­posed higher ed­u­ca­tion re­forms will have a dis­pro­por­tion­ately neg­a­tive im­pact on stu­dents from lower so­cioe­co­nomic back­grounds in the south­ern outer sub­urbs of Perth, says Brand MHR Madeleine King.

Ms King said the plans would af­fect hun­dreds of stu­dents each year who do not achieve the re­quired ATAR but gain en­try to Mur­doch Uni­ver­sity by suc­cess­fully com­plet­ing a fee-free en­abling pro­gram.

The Fed­eral Par­lia­ment is de­bat­ing $2.8 bil­lion in cuts to uni­ver­sity fund­ing which will im­pose a stu­dent con­tri­bu­tion on en­abling pro­grams.

Ms King said this would hit stu­dents who en­ter Mur­doch’s OnTrack pro­gram.

The OnTrack pro­gram is a 14-week course that equips stu­dents with the re­search, writ­ing and think­ing skills nec­es­sary to suc­cess­fully study at uni­ver­sity.

More than 450 stu­dents this year (up from 296 in 2016) have taken ad­van­tage of OnTrack.

“It is es­ti­mated that charg­ing fees for en­abling pro­grams will af­fect more than 350 stu­dents each year across Rock­ing­ham and Peel,” Ms King said.

“To rip up the op­por­tu­ni­ties and dreams of these stu­dents is, in my opin­ion, a na­tional dis­grace and should be re­con­sid­ered by the gov­ern­ment.”

Jen­nifer Kelly from Waikiki ap­plied for en­try to Mur­doch Uni­ver­sity as a ma­ture age stu­dent through OnTrack. She is now com­plet­ing a dou­ble de­gree in Biomed­i­cal Sci­ence and Clin­i­cal Lab­o­ra­tory Sci­ence.

Ms Kelly said it was im­por­tant OnTrack re­mains fee-free be­cause it means that any­one has the op­por­tu­nity to ap­ply for uni­ver­sity. Her aim is to work in med­i­cal re­search. “I hope to be part of a team that dis­cov­ers some­thing amaz­ing,” Ms Kelly said.

“I want to en­sure that ev­ery per­son can live a full life, free of dis­ease and ill­ness.”

Min­is­ter for Ed­u­ca­tion and Train­ing Simon Birm­ing­ham said tax­payer fund­ing for uni­ver­si­ties had grown at twice the rate of the econ­omy since 2009.

“Our re­forms still see uni­ver­sity teach­ing rev­enue grow by a fur­ther 23 per cent over the for­ward es­ti­mates, just grow­ing at a more sus­tain­able tra­jec­tory to en­sure the on­go­ing vi­a­bil­ity of gen­er­ous higher ed­u­ca­tion fund­ing and ac­cess,” he said.

“We’re ex­pand­ing the de­mand-driven sys­tem and the tax­payer-funded stu­dent loan pro­gram to sub-bach­e­lor cour­ses where they trans­late into fur­ther qual­i­fi­ca­tions and align with in­dus­try needs while en­sur­ing that en­abling places go to the in­sti­tu­tions with the best record of help­ing stu­dents suc­ceed.

“There’s no up­front cost for en­abling cour­ses and those stu­dents will be treated ex­actly the same as their peers do­ing other cour­ses at uni­ver­sity where the stu­dent loan pro­gram ap­plies.”

Mur­doch Uni­ver­sity’s An­drew Tag­gart and Waikiki stu­dent Jen­nifer Kelly.

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