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Thursday, 19 March 1987
Page: 981

Senator GILES —My question is also addressed to the Minister for Education. Reports indicate that considerable demands are being made on funds available for loans to tertiary students. Is the Western Australian University Guild of Undergraduates correct in claiming a 40 per cent reduction in its grants for student loans?

Senator RYAN —No, that claim by the Guild is not correct. I think it arises from a misunderstanding by Guild members of the manner in which our Government has built up student loans schemes over the triennium. The Government decided to allocate $11.4m in total for the program under the 1985-87 triennium. Of the total of $10.4m so far allocated under the program some 73 per cent was made available in 1985-86. In advancing most of the funds for the program early in the triennium the Government intended that the program be available to assist needy students as soon as possible. There remains $1m to be allocated under the program. The Commonwealth Tertiary Education Commission has recently sought information on the state of student loan funds. Additional allocations from the $1m will be made shortly to those institutions which have reported a shortage of funds. The University of Western Australia is likely to receive some additional funding. But it is very important that the Guild understands that the funds were not allocated to institutions on the basis of fixed annual grants, as is suggested by the Guild students' claims, but the total funds available were allocated across Australia on a needs basis.