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Friday, 20 March 1987
Page: 1091

Senator WALTERS —My question of the Minister for Education is in two parts. Is she aware that certain groups of students at the University of Tasmania who are undertaking a full year course on a financial year basis, that is from July 1986 to June 1987, are required to pay the $250 administration fee twice? These students include in-service teachers and honours degree students in botany, geography and zoology, who are required to undertake field work during the summer. Is the Minister also aware that one of the higher education institutions in my State has commenced to suspend students who have not paid the $250 administration charge? Will the Minister inform the House what action the Government proposes to take on that latter situation? Can the Minister give an assurance that the anomaly of being forced to pay twice will be rectified so that students enrolled for the financial year are placed on the same fee paying basis as those enrolled for the calendar year?

Senator RYAN —My attention has been drawn to the circumstances facing students who are undertaking a course that goes from June to June. It certainly was the case that the administration charge was envisaged as applying to a calendar year, which is the normal, typical way in which students undertake a year of academic study. At this stage it appears that that situation may be anomalous, but the Government will be examining this circumstance, along with the results of the research project into the effect of the administration charge on particular groups, when the monitoring committee reports to the Government. We will have a look at it at that stage.

With regard to the second part of Senator Walters's question, I am not aware that a Tasmanian institution has started turning students away. What we have put to the institutions is that they ought to be as liberal as possible in the final date by which they require the administration charge. Certainly we have asked that students who expect to be in receipt of Austudy and therefore get their $250 paid by the Commonwealth not be required to complete their payment until they have received Austudy. If other students know that they do not have the $250 themselves and have to seek a loan, I would have thought that by now they would have gone through those processes. In fact, I have had no particular representations from the Tasmanian institution and--

Senator Walters —You have now.

Senator RYAN —Perhaps the honourable senator would like to tell me which institution it was.