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Tuesday, 9 December 1986
Page: 3584

Senator REYNOLDS —Is the Minister for Education aware that there are no standard procedures amongst Australian tertiary institutions to ensure equitable administration of the $250 administrative charge? In particular, is the Minister aware that at least one Queensland institution has a policy to refuse loans for this charge and another has demanded full payment by 9 January? Furthermore, a university council has ruled against refunds for students withdrawing with justification early in the academic year. Will the Minister request officers of the Commonwealth Tertiary Education Commission to liaise urgently with all tertiary institutions to ensure that standard procedures are adopted to protect students from these unfair practices, which go against Government policy?

Senator RYAN —As I have said a number of times in the Senate, the institutions have received guidelines from me and from CTEC advising as to the levying of the charge. They were asked in the first instance not to levy the charge until the legislation was through and, in the case of students eligible for Austudy, not to actually levy the charge until the students had received their $250 payment from Austudy. Indeed, there is no reason, other than some slight administrative convenience, for them to do other than abide by that guideline. They have been given additional loan funds amounting in total to $11m specifically so that loans can be made available to students who will be liable for the charge but who will not have the $250 at the beginning of the academic year. It is very much outside Government policy and outside the reasons why the institutions have been given additional loan funds for an institution to decide that loans will not be made available for that purpose. I suggest that Senator Reynolds let me know of the particular institutions. I will not name them in the Senate in case there has been some misunderstanding. I will ensure that officers of CTEC point out the desires of the Government in this respect.