Some students to benefit

SECONDARY and Tertiary education providers have been spared the budget axe with low-income and disadvantaged students to benefit the most from this year’s federal budget.

With $23.4 million set aside over four years to help disadvantaged students, Monash Gippsland believed the funds would particularly benefit Gippsland – an area currently found to have low student retention rates.

“In a time of considerable fiscal restraint, this is a pleasing budget for Australia’s higher education sector,” Monash University Gippsland Pro Vice-Chancellor Helen Bartlett said.

“Universities, and the teaching and research they undertake, have largely been spared from any major cost-cutting.”

The allocation of $50 million towards the Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Programs was also heralded by Prof Bartlett.

She said the government’s decision to increase investment in its equity programs would help increase student intakes.

“We expect that this additional funding will not only enhance existing programs… but allow us to introduce additional measures that can be further tailored to the needs of students in our region,” she said.

The university currently works with secondary schools, implementing a three-fold plan aimed at attracting, supporting and retaining students.

In an effort to save about $300 million over four years, the government move maths and science courses from its ‘National Priority’ level to ‘Band 2’ on the student contribution band.

This change could see students pay full fees their courses, which were previously subsidised.

However, Prof Bartlett said the discontinuation of the subsidisation for these courses would not have a significant impact on students.

“It is widely agreed by universities that this measure did not result in any significant increase to enrolments,” Prof Bartlett said.

“We are confident that the savings achieved from this decision will allow better investment in other areas to help encourage greater uptake of courses in these areas.”