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University places.

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1 September, 2003 MIN 444/03

More Australian students than ever before are attending Australia’s universities, according to statistics submitted by universities to the Australian Government Department of Education, Science and Training.

658,656 domestic students were studying at Australian universities in the first half of 2003 - an increase of 8,870 or 1.4% on 2002 figures.

In April the Australian Vice Chancellors Committee (AVCC) released its analysis which showed that between 18,700 and 25,700 eligible applicants did not secure a place nationally in 2003.

This is significantly better than the comparable range of 35,600 - 54,700 young people who were unable to obtain a place when Labor ran universities in 1992.

While the long term trend is encouraging, unmet demand will always be higher than it could be if Australia does not undertake urgently needed reform of the sector.

The Government’s higher education reform package, if passed by the Senate, will ensure that many more opportunities are provided to those who wish to pursue a tertiary education.

It is hypocritical of Labor to claim concern for those who missed out on a university place this year whilst simultaneously vowing to block in the Senate the Government’s reform package - which includes providing almost 32,000 fully funded places.

It is also important to reflect on unmet demand in the context of university drop outs.

Of the approximately 220,000 students who commenced university this year, 90,000 will drop out. Although some of these students are deferring for good reason, 70,000 will drop out and never return to their studies.

Media Contact: Dr Nelson’s Office: Yaron Finkelstein 0414 927 663