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Thursday, 15 May 2014
Page: 3900

Ms CLAYDON (Newcastle) (13:48): I rise to pay tribute to the University of Newcastle and congratulate them on the recent announcement that they have become the No. 1 ranked university under 50 years of age in Australia. This represents a continuation of their recent trajectory up the rankings and they are now ranked 28th in the world. Equity of access to higher education is a fundamental part of the University of Newcastle's DNA. It is reflected in their institutional values and demonstrated in their range of education programs based on students' ability, not on students' family history or the size of their wallets. The University of Newcastle rightly prides itself on its ability to deliver excellence in tandem with equity and not in spite of it. The university presently has the highest number of students enrolled in enabling programs of any Australian university. These are programs that support people into higher education through non-traditional pathways.

This government's $5 billion attack on higher education in the budget, including a $170 million cut to equity programs and the proposed deregulation of fees, will hit regional universities, like Newcastle, and their student body hard. Low-income, female and rural and regional students and their families will be hardest hit by these cuts, as they are made to shoulder a larger burden of university costs. These changes create obstacles. It is excellence and equity that we need in higher education. (Time expired)