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Friday, 1 June 1984
Page: 2348

Senator RYAN (Minister for Education and Youth Affairs)(10.54) —The Commonwealth's responsibility to universities is to provide them with capital and recurrent funding, which we do exclusively. All such funds come from the Commonwealth. Decisions about which courses are offered within universities are taken basically by the councils of those universities although, for students to be eligible for the tertiary education assistance scheme allowance for courses offered within universities, those courses have to be accredited. There are various accreditation committees administered by the Tertiary Education Commission. They make recommendations, ultimately to me, about which courses are to be accredited, but it is a routine matter that those accreditation recommendations are accepted.

I am not aware of any intention of Deakin University to cut out courses. But, if the honourable senator has heard suggestions of this in the light of the forthcoming Budget, I can only suggest that Deakin University, like all institutions, will have to wait until I issue the funding guidelines for tertiary institutions. I expect that to be in early July and at that time institutions will have a general idea of their recurrent funding for the following year and beyond. They will not have a specific idea of the capital funds that they will receive until a little later than that, until the Tertiary Education Commission distributes among the various institutions what capital funds are made available. The specific information that would help Senator Boswell to understand what Deakin's position will be will have to wait until then. I will ask my offices to see if there is any further information that I can make available to him.

On the question of the transfer time from unemployment benefit to TEAS, certainly there has been a great improvement in the administration of TEAS benefits this year. The waiting time that students have had to endure before getting TEAS has been shorter this year than any previous year. This is mainly to do with the overhauling and improvement of the computer system from which TEAS payments are made. I say in passing that Dr Taloni's efforts have caused the improvement in this area. There have been significant improvements. The waiting time for students generally, not just those who are coming off unemployment benefit, is about four weeks. I will take on notice the honourable senator's request for specific information about the time involved for students coming off unemployment benefit. I do not know of any reason why it should be any longer than for students applying freshly from school. If there is further information about, I will make it available to the honourable senator.