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Tuesday, 24 March 1987
Page: 1197


Senator CHANEY —My question is addressed to the Minister for Education. It follows the answer she gave me a few minutes ago about the admission of Australian students who have not received a quota place as against the admission of overseas students. I preface my question with some information I have from the Queensland Tertiary Admissions Commission, that in three main faculties-medicine, engineering and science-not all students who received identical tertiary entrance scores were offered places in the faculties. For example, not all students who received a tertiary entrance score of 985 were offered a place in the medical faculty or school; and, similarly, not all students who received a tertiary entrance score of 930 were granted entry into the engineering faculty. In those circumstances, and given the Minister's reliance on the fact that it was lower qualified Australian students who were being excluded, I ask her whether in such cases-where there is no question of qualifications, because they are, in a score sense, the equivalent of those who are receiving admission-she concedes that these students should be permitted to get a place, either by payment or otherwise, in the same manner as overseas students.


Senator RYAN —I certainly do not concede that. I would like to know more about the admissions policies of the institutions that Senator Chaney has just cited. If we have two students with identical scores and one gets a place and one does not, in the same faculty, there must be some other criterion of selection being used. I would like to know what it was before I drew any conclusions.


Senator CHANEY —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. This is an important matter affecting Australian students. I ask the Minister whether she will make inquiries and advise the Senate on how, consistent with her earlier answer, we can have a situation where Australian students are excluded under those circumstances?


Senator RYAN —Senator Chaney has taken up a great deal of Question Time today pursuing this hobby-horse, and he has raised it on previous occasions. He seems to have it firmly implanted in his mind that masses of Australian students are demanding the right to pay $12,000 a year for a university place. Many of his colleagues opposite, with their cheers, boos and so forth, seem to be suggesting that the higher education policy that Australian students want is the right to pay full cost fees. If he believes that to be the case-and, clearly, some people in his Party, including Mr Shack, must-let him campaign among secondary students and their parents and among those people in Australia who are interested in higher education by saying: `Our policy is that you can pay $12,000 a year'. The Labor Government's policy is that places are awarded on the basis of merit and some students will have to pay a small administration charge.