Pain­ful cut for stud­ies

The Weekend Post - - News -

VANESSA MARSH THOU­SANDS of Queens­land stu­dents could be forced to drop out of their stud­ies af­ter the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment qui­etly pulled cru­cial fi­nan­cial aid for vo­ca­tional stud­ies.

Stu­dents in hun­dreds of cour­ses in­clud­ing dance, lead­er­ship, jus­tice and jour­nal­ism have been axed from the Turn­bull gov­ern­ment’s list of el­i­gi­ble in­come sup­port re­cip­i­ents, caus­ing chaos in the ed­u­ca­tion sec­tor as stu­dents are forced to re­ject place­ment of­fers and schools strug­gle with the down­turn in de­mand.

It’s a sec­ond heavy blow to the in­dus­try af­ter stu­dents in al­most 500 vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing (VET) cour­ses were blocked from re­ceiv­ing stu­dent loans from 2016 on­wards.

Those same cour­ses are now in­el­i­gi­ble for in­come sup­port such as Youth Al­lowance and Aus­tudy, a move Jschool jour­nal­ism col­lege di­rec­tor John Hen­ning­ham slammed as “out­ra­geous”.

“It’s very dis­crim­i­na­tory and puni­tive and it’s up­set­ting to our stu­dents,” Mr Hen­ning­ham said. “They are treated dif­fer­ently from stu­dents study­ing the same sort of thing at univer­sity and it does re­ally knock about places like us.

“We’re in the process of leav­ing the gov­ern­ment’s reg­u­la­tory sys­tem be­cause we see no ben­e­fit if stu­dents can’t get sup­port and loans.”

Mr Hen­ning­ham said the gov­ern­ment’s claim the changes were made to stop peo­ple rort­ing the sys­tem and to fo­cus on ed­u­ca­tion op­tions with op­ti­mal em­ploy­ment rates was un­true.

“They’re so in­ept that they al­lowed the rort­ing to oc­cur … and then they pu­n­ish the good providers and the stu­dents who wanted to study,” he said.

“To dis­crim­i­nate against the vo­ca­tional sec­tor as op­posed to the univer­sity sec­tor is an ex­am­ple of the crazi­ness of their sys­tem.”

Aus­tralian Dance Per­for­mance In­sti­tute head of mu­si­cal theatre Jac­qui Dev­ereux said 10 stu­dents at the school had al­ready been forced to quit.

“We’ve also had a lot of teary phone calls from prospec­tive stu­dents who say they just can’t af­ford it any­more,” Ms Dev­ereux said. “The busi­ness is suf­fer­ing and our stu­dents are suf­fer­ing.”

Ms Dev­ereux said many of the arts cour­ses that had been de­funded were very de­mand­ing, leav­ing lit­tle time for part­time jobs.

Gene Moyle, pres­i­dent of Aus­tralia’s peak dance ad­vo­cacy body Aus­dance Na­tional, said the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s sub­mis­sions to have the changes over­turned had fallen on deaf ears.

“I def­i­nitely think this lat­est (stu­dent loan cut) came as a sur­prise to a lot of peo­ple,” she said.

The De­part­ment of So­cial Ser­vices re­fused to any an­swer ques­tions on the is­sue.

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