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Thursday, 5 February 2009
Page: 681


Mr Katter asked the Minister for Education, in writing, on 4 December 2008:

(1) Is she aware (a) that the tertiary participation rate of persons aged 17-22 years in metropolitan electorates is nearly double that of those in rural electorates; and (b) of the economic challenges that bring about this disparity.(2) As part of her ‘education revolution’, what extra incentives will be offered to help ease the economic burden and reduce the consequent disadvantage for country based students.(3) Would she consider implementing a ‘Tertiary Access Allowance’ as financial assistance to rural and remote students who must live away from home, to enable them to access tertiary education; if so, could it involve, on proof of initial enrolment, an annual non means tested allowance of $6000 a year(indexed to Consumer Price Index) that would not jeopardise their eligibility for existing support payments (i.e. Youth Allowance and ABSTUDY) for the duration of their full time course.


Ms Gillard (Minister for Education, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and Minister for Social Inclusion) —The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

(1)  

(a)   Yes. However I am uncertain of Mr Katter’s source. There is a strong relationship between rural or regional location and participation in higher education, as shown in Table 1. The relationship for vocational education and training is less marked.

Table 1: Participation of 15-24 Year Olds in Non-school Education by Remoteness Areas*, Australia, 2006

Mainland State

Capital

Major Urban District

Large Provincial City

District

Small

Provincial City

District

Inner Provincial Area

Outer Provincial Area

Remote Area

Very Remote Area

Australia

Higher Education

Males

27.3%

24.5%

21.5%

16.4%

17.3%

11.7%

8.8%

8.5%

25.6%

Females

33.5%

31.9%

33.2%

29.1%

27.6%

22.9%

18.6%

18.0%

32.6%

VET

Males

29.2%

28.4%

26.8%

26.0%

26.2%

22.7%

22.9%

19.4%

28.1%

Females

20.5%

20.7%

20.6%

20.4%

18.1%

17.2%

17.0%

17.0%

20.1%

Source: ABS, Census of Population and Housing, 2006.

*Due to methodological issues there may be differences between this data and total State and Australia data reported by the ABS

  

(b)   Yes. Economic factors are but some of the influences on higher education participation, and do not operate the same way in all locations. As important are local business and industry, family and student aspirations, job opportunities and lifestyle choices.

   (2)   Several Australian Government programs are in place that assist rural and regional students. These include Youth Allowance and Austudy, deferred payment arrangements for tuition costs through the Higher Education Loan Programme (HELP) and funding for Commonwealth Scholarships. The doubling of Commonwealth Scholarships from 44,000 to 88,000 by 2012, is directly focused on helping disadvantaged students, including those living in regional and remote areas, in better accessing higher education.

   (3)   I will not comment on specific proposals at this stage. Income support for students has been identified as a key issue in the Bradley Review of Australian Higher Education. The report from the Review was released recently by the Australian Government on 17 December 2008. The Australian Government will consider the findings of the Review and respond in due course.