An additional 70,000 students will receive financial support to attend university as a result of changes introduced by the Gillard Government.
Minister for Tertiary Education, Senator Chris Evans said changing the age and earning thresholds at which students could access Youth Allowance and Austudy had resulted in a dramatic increase in the number of students who were eligible for support.
“A record number of 193,000 students are now receiving financial assistance to support them through their university education – this compares to 130,000 in 2008,” Senator Evans said.
“It includes more than 45,000 students from regional and rural Australia which is a pleasing result and shows that our reforms are working to open the door to a university education to more Australians.
“By 2016, we expect there will be more than 200,000 higher education students receiving Youth Allowance or Austudy.
“That’s 70,000 additional students receiving student income support than there were in 2008.
“Labor’s reforms mean access to our universities is now determined by a student’s ability and commitment, not their bank balance or postcode.
“We are tapping into the aspiration and abilities of those who previously believed that a university education was beyond their reach.”
This year, the Gillard Government has changed the student support system to allow students to earn more before their student payments are impacted – by boosting the Student Income Bank, students are now able to 'bank' more of the unused part of their fortnightly personal income threshold to be used at a later stage.
This is in addition to Labor’s $265 million package of reforms delivered in 2011 which removed regional distinctions and the 2010 response to the Bradley Review, which lowered the age of independence and saw an influx of students able to access support.
Parliamentary Secretary for Higher Education, Sharon Bird MP, said the Government’s unprecedented investment and landmark higher education reforms have opened up the doors to university to an extra 150,000 Australians.
“After years of decline under the Howard Government, we are proud to see the number of rural and regional students attending university once again on the increase,” Ms Bird said.
“Having more students with the qualifications they need for tomorrow's jobs will be of huge benefit to business, industry and the economy.”
Senator Evans said the Gillard Government will invest a record $3.3 billion this year to give more students than ever before access to student income support.
“Despite tough economic challenges, we are increasing financial support for students and maintaining our record investment in higher education,” Senator Evans said.
“The MYEFO includes an upward revision of almost $2 billion for Youth Allowance and Austudy, largely reflecting an increase in projected enrolments in higher education and a growing take up of income support payments by university students under the demand driven system.”