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Minister's criticisms supported

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February 11, 1992.



Senator Karin Sowada, Education Spokesperson for the Australian Democrats, has congratulated the Federal Minister for Higher Education and Employment Services, Mr Peter Baldwin, on his criticisms of the Chapman Report into AUSTUDY.

"Student financial assistance schemes play a vital role in broadening access to education, especially for students from disadvantaged backgrounds, the claim that AUSTUDY has not played a major part in increasing participation in higher education is misleading".

The Report concludes that AUSTUDY has made little difference to the participation rates for more than 25% of students receiving it, Senator Sowada agrees with the Minister that this conclusion is 'implausible'.

"The Minister is correct when he refers to a loans scheme having 'disadvantages'.

The idea of implementing a loans scheme represents a dangerous shift towards user-pays education in this country, at a time when an increased Government commitment is called for."

The Democrats are committed to widening the availability of AUSTUDY and removing financial barriers to education, including the Higher Education Contribution Scheme.

"I urge the Government to reject the introduction of a loans scheme but to support strongly a decrease in the Independent Age Rate from 25 to 21", Senator Sowada concluded.

For more information contact:

Senator Karin Sowada or Natasha Stott Despoja

018 205 860 Education Researcher

(mobile) (06) 277 5899