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Thursday, 21 May 1970

Dr SOLOMON (Denison) - In the absence of the honourable member for Kennedy (Mr Katter), who I thought would precede me in this debate, I should like to add a few words to what the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley) has said. Clearly this is a matter on which we could speak at great length if we were to take into account the general philosophy of university education, what we do for the students during their time at university and how they are accommodated. Perhaps it is inappropriate to speak at length on such a matter, although I do not in any sense decry what the honourable member for Fremantle has just said. If we were to introduce a discussion on the whole concept of the possibility of introducing what I might well call the Oxford-Cambridge system of university college structure, associated tutorial accommodation and so forth, we might spend a long time on this debate.

However, I look forward, together with the honourable member for Fremantle, to talking about these matters at some other time.

I should like to commend, if that is necessary, the Government for taking on this follow-up proposition in relation to these 2 halls of residence. Despite the fact that there are elements in the community who consider that universities get perhaps more than their just due and that the ultimate provision of full time accommodation for university students is something which perhaps we could do better without, I commend the present trend. It is interesting to mention some relevant figures in relation to trends in Australia and elsewhere. If we look at recent figures for Australia we find that in 1969, which is as recently as we can hope to find figures, 15% of the full time students in all Australian State universities were accommodated in halls of residence. Only the Australian National University figure was somewhat different. About 53% of its full time students were in residence. These figures compare roughly with those of the United Kingdom. The latest figures that I have available are up to the end of 1966. They indicate that in the United Kingdom as a whole - that is, England, Wales. Scotland and Northern Ireland - 33% of full time male students were in residence in colleges of residence in the universities and about 39% of females, although the females were fewer in number. In addition 48% of the male students ; and about 44% of the female students were in lodgings or flats so-called. The remainder, roughly 19% of the men and 13% of he women, were living at home. As honourable members may have noticed, there are 3 categories - those living at home, those in provided halls of residence and those somewhere in between, that is, in lodgings or flats. Herein lies the problem with which the Bill is concerned, and this is the only way by which the problem can be dealt with. When people have to leave home to go to universities, which still, despite the postwar expansion, are relatively few in number, and have to remain away from their homes to be attendant in these places, they have 2 choices - first, to get themselves into a university hall of residence or, secondly, to find some other berth.

The problem has increased quite rapidly in recent years when the number of university students away from home has increased and the number of university students generally has well outstripped the provision of college accommodation. If I can relate this situation to my own State, the position in Hobart has become quite intense, quite highly pressured, in the last few years only. The University of Tasmania is a small university with roughly 2,500 students but with a pressure on accommodation which shows itself very early during the lung vacation. Well before the university starts its year all the available accommodation of any suitable character in flats and lodgings is taken up. On that case alone - certainly we could duplicate it in most other centres of university learning - there is ample argument for having further accommodation for full time university students. Of course, this is quite an expensive operation. In this Bill we have 2 widely diverse sums. A sum of $47,241 is mentioned in the case of the women's hall of residence proposed for Tasmania, and a figure considerably in excess of that for the hall of residence at Monash University. The Tasmanian figure is, in fact, the change out of $50,000 after the expenditure of a few thousand dollars on very preliminary planning. Already a sum of $566,000 is earmarked to be shared by the Commonwealth and the States for the first stage of real building of this women's hall of residence.

The University of Tasmania has only a few colleges, as I indicated by talking about the pressure on private accommodation. The men's hall of residence, Hytten Hall, has expanded very considerably in recent years under the very able wardenship of a longstanding colleague of mine. The other colleges for males - the Catholic college and the Church of England college - have been doing a sterling job in accommodating students and they are expanding rapidly. The only women's hall of residence is one which is not of the university but has long been associated with it. lt is named Jane Franklin Hall after the wife of a former governor, Sir John Franklin. Until the recent advent of a rather small Catholic women's college, again off campus, this was the only accommodation available for female students. So the proposition that there should be a women's hall of residence - the direct female counterpart of Hytten Hall - is to be commended, lt is very much in demand and will be amply and properly used when the time comes.

Regarding the total Australian situation - and I want to refer only briefly to this - there is quite a wide range in the percentage of students accommodated in residences at the universities. For example, in the University of Sydney only about 10% of the full time students are in residence. I should think, from memory, that that is the sort of figure which has obtained for quite some time, although there may be a variation of a few points. At the other extreme is the University of New England in its rural locale and not in a big city, unlike most, if not all the other universities, with about 86% of its students in residence. As 1 observed them some years ago the halls of residence were well appointed and, for the most part, well a archlectured. However, excluding the Australian National University, the total Australian figure is about 15% but the range is quite wide. The University of Tasmania is somewhere near the median figure, with about 244% of its full time students in residence. Monash University, which is also dealt with in this Bill, is at the bottom of the list with about 9% only of its students in full time residence. Quite clearly in each of the universities mentioned in the Bill - whether or not we compare them with other Australian universities or with overseas universities, and we could take it further if time were available - there is plenty of case to be made for the validation of the Bill to enable the building to proceed as has long since been planned. 1 do not wish to take up much more time of the House now. I commend the honourable member for Fremantle for his remarks. 1 should not like to extend them, to take issue with them, or to agree with them in greater detail at this stage. In summary I should like to say that this measure is entirely worthwhile and that I hope we will be able to continue the process by which some significant proportion of university students are accommodated in quarters which are conducive to learning through the involvement of their tutorial systems, the esprit de corps which they develop and that sort of thing, and that a decreasing number of Australian university students will have to be in the position, as some people are in some other institutions, of having to dig around on the off chance of finding lodgings, often quite unsuitable for study although, at the same time, something that people try to provide as best they are able.

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