FEDERAL Member for Gippsland Darren Chester has accused the Federal Government of misleading Gippsland students with claims the Coalition would scrap student support payments.
Mr Chester said Federal Tertiary Education Minister Chris Evans had used the week students received their Victorian Curriculum of Education results to “scare regional families” by taking Coalition comments about its income support policies “out of context”.
Mr Evans had issued a statement warning Shadow Minister for Universities and Research Brett Mason had “confirmed the Coalition will cut student support payments, including the Student Start-Up Scholarship, meaning only those from wealthy backgrounds will be able to go to university”.
Mr Evans said the $2050 Student Start-up Scholarship assisted students with the upfront costs of textbooks, equipment, computpers, internet access and stationary needed for study.
In response Mr Chester claimed regional students would “get a better deal” under a Coalition Government.
He said Mr Mason had told the Australian Financial Review that “as part of its commitment to improving student support, the Coalition will review payments to ensure a fair, equitable, and open system”.
Mr Chester said Mr Evans “subsequently told regional students and their families that the Coalition would cut student support payments including the Student Start-up Scholarship”.
The local MP did not comment further on the Student Start-Up Scholarship claims but instead criticised the Federal Government for introducing a “discriminatory Youth Allowance scheme in 2009”.
“Had the Coalition not campaigned with regional students and their families in protest to the changes, some students would have had to work for 30 hours per week over two years to achieve the independent rate of Youth Allowance,” he said.
Mr Chester said he would “continue to work with regional students and their families to advocate for a fairer system of student income support ahead of the 2013 Federal election”.
“We need a simpler Tertiary Access Allowance to help regional students and their families with the additional costs they face when relocating which are not faced by students who have the option of staying at home while studying.”