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Wednesday, 1 December 1976
Page: 3105

Mr Garrick asked the Minister representing the Minister for Education, upon notice:

(   1 ) Will 8000 students be financially worse off under the Government's new proposals on tertiary allowances, and will others now receiving allowances become ineligible.

(2)   Will all students be discouraged from working during vacations because they are allowed to earn only $1,500 per annum, whereas previously, under the Tertiary Education Assistance Scheme, they could earn that amount during the year and an unlimited sum during vacation.

(3)   Are bonded trainee teachers in Victoria and South Australia now ineligible for assistance because they receive $600 per annum from their respective State Governments.

(4)   Has the Government claimed that allowances have increased by up to $ 10; if so, is it a fact that the vast majority will still receive less than $42 per week which is the figure recommended by a Government inquiry over 12 months ago.

Mr Viner -The Minister for Education has supplied the following answer to the honourable member's question:

(   I ) The majority of students who will receive allowances under the Tertiary Education Assistance Scheme in 1 977 will be better off financially compared with the situation in 1976. Allowances have been increased substantially, by up to 40 per cent in the case of students who are independent of parental support; the limit of family income at which the maximum allowance is payable has been increased and requirements relating to the student's program have been eased where a student is unable to undertake a full study load because of course requirements or arising out of a direction by the student 's institution.

These changes will have the effect of enabling a number of students who did not qualify for benefits in 1976 to receive assistance in 1977.

However, students who receive assistance from other Commonwealth awards will no longer be eligible for Tertiary Education Assistance. Other students who receive substantial amounts from employment or from other, nonCommonwealth awards will have their allowances reduced. The number who will be affected in 1 977 is not known.

(2)   The Williams Committee, which in 1975 reviewed the scheme, recommended that a student's own income should be means tested over the calendar year, since the allowance is intended to contribute to the support of the student for the calendar year, and not only the academic year. The Government has accepted this recommendation. Students who in 1977 will earn more than $ 1 500, however, will not automatically lose their allowance. For every $2 earned in excess of $1500 a student's allowance will be reduced by $1. Previously the reduction for dependent students was $1 for $1 and that for independent students was $ 1 for every $1.50.

The Government is mindful that not all students who work during the long vacation also work part-time during the year. In these cases income earned may not exceed $1500 and the issue would not arise.

(3)   There are two aspects to this question. In the first place, bonded teacher trainees have always been ineligible. Some states have moved recently to provide unbonded teacher training scholarships. Students are currently able to receive up to $600 from unbonded scholarships without affecting their allowances. In arriving at its decision to reduce this amount to $150 from 1977, the Government accepted the recommendation of the Williams Committee on this matter. The Committee felt that an amount as high as $600 ran contrary to the purpose of the means test designed to measure the level of support required by needy students.

(4)   The maximum allowance of $43 per week payable to independent students in 1977 will represent an increase of more than $12 per week over the 1976 figure. Increases for dependent students are $7 per week for those living away from home and $5 per week for those living at home.

In 1 976, 27 per cent of all TEAS beneficiaries were receiving maximum independent rates. An additional 48 per cent were receiving the maximum amount applicable to the two categories of dependent students. It must be assumed that the remainder received some support from either their own resources or their families.

No significant change in these proportions can be predicted.

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