Re­forms may hurt num­bers at univer­sity

Southern Telegraph - - Telegraph News - David Sal­vaire

The Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment’s pro­posed higher ed­u­ca­tion re­forms could drive stu­dents away from pro­grams at Mur­doch Univer­sity’s Rock­ing­ham cam­pus, the in­sti­tute’s provost has warned.

As part of the pro­posed re­forms, which in­clude $2.8 bil­lion in cuts, the Gov­ern­ment wants stu­dents to pay for pro­grams like OnTrack.

Mur­doch Univer­sity provost An­drew Tag­gart said that would lead to a de­cline in stu­dent num­bers.

“We’ve had a record num­ber of peo­ple en­rolled in OnTrack this semester, with 470 across the State, while 90 of those are at the Rock­ing­ham cam­pus, but the re­forms could hurt that,” he said.

Dur­ing a re­cent speech in Par­lia­ment, La­bor MP Madeleine King echoed Mr Tag­gart’s claims.

She said it was es­ti­mated 350 stu­dents a year across Rock­ing­ham and Peel would be af­fected. and la­belled the pro­posed changes a “na­tional dis­grace”.

Jen­nifer Kelly from Waikiki gained en­try to Mur­doch Univer­sity as a ma­ture age stu­dent through OnTrack, a 14-week pro­gram that qual­i­fies stu­dents to ap­ply for an un­der­grad­u­ate de­gree.

She said it was im­por­tant that OnTrack re­main free be­cause “it means any­one has the op­por­tu­nity to ap­ply for univer­sity”.

Ac­cord­ing to the Aus­tralian Bureau of Sta­tis­tics, Rock­ing­ham has some of the low­est num­bers of peo­ple in univer­sity in the State, with 8.8 per cent, well be­low Perth fig­ures (16.5 per cent). To com­bat the low num­bers, the City of Rock­ing­ham is mov­ing for­ward with its Ter­tiary Schol­ar­ship Scheme.

The scheme will be open to Rock­ing­ham res­i­dents aged 18-40 want­ing to en­ter ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion for the first time, to un­der­take an un­der­grad­u­ate univer­sity de­gree, a TAFE diploma or a recog­nised al­ter­na­tive path­way to univer­sity.

There would be up to 20 places avail­able for univer­sity un­der­grad­u­ate en­trance to the tune of $10,000 per schol­ar­ship, equat­ing to $2500 per year, for up to four years for an un­der­grad­u­ate de­gree.

Fed­eral Min­is­ter for Ed­u­ca­tion and Train­ing Simon Birm­ing­ham was con­tacted for com­ment.

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