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Tuesday, 13 December 1983
Page: 3662


Senator RYAN (Minister for Education and Youth Affairs) —by leave-I present a ministerial statement on the Commonwealth Tertiary Education Commission's Supplementary Report on Participation Initiatives in Higher Education. I seek leave to have the statement incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The statement read as follows-

For the information of honourable senators, I present the Commonwealth Tertiary Education Commission's Supplementary Report on Participation Initiatives in Higher Education together with additional advice from the Chairman of the Commission.

Honourable senators will recall that on 18 October I tabled Volume 4 of the Commonwealth Tertiary Education Commission's report for the 1982-84 triennium. I now present a supplementary report from the Commission on participation initiatives in higher education in 1984. This report and additional advice from the Chairman of the Commission of 28 November set out the Commission's recommendations for the allocation of the additional $10.47m-$10m in December 1982 prices-the Government has provided for 1984 to increase participation in higher education.

In providing additional recurrent funds for higher education in 1984, the last year of the triennium, the Government has made clear its commitment to increase the level of higher education participation in Australia. The Government recognised that the tertiary education policies of the previous Government provided limited opportunities for young people and the Government has initiated action to overcome the difficulties this has caused.

The Government has accepted the Commission's recommendations on the allocation of increased funds for universities and colleges of advanced education. A total of 3,000 additional higher education places will be available in 1984 as a result of this initiative. A table which summarises the allocations to individual institutions is attached to this statement and with the concurrence of the Senate the table will be incorporated in Hansard. The Commission has advised that a number of other institutions have also been prepared to accommodate additional students within their existing funds to meet the Government's objectives.

In making its recommendations the Commission was asked to give particular attention to proposals which take account of the Government's concern to increase the participation in higher education of Australians from disadvantaged groups including Aborigines, migrants, low income families, women and the handicapped, especially those who live in outer metroplitan areas where there are large populations with relatively little access to higher education. The Commission has, therefore, given particular weight to proposals from institutions with a record of commitment to facilitating access by such groups. I am encouraged by the Commission's advice that many universities and CAEs are working towards the objective of improving access to higher education among such groups. Increased funds in 1984 will enable activities in this area to be expanded and new measures to be introduced.

A number of the new places have been specifically set aside for Aboriginal students, particularly in teacher education courses. I see this as a further step in reaching the Government's target of 1,000 Aboriginal teachers by 1990 and increasing the extremely low rate of participation by Aborigines in higher education.

A large proportion of the additional places has been directed to higher education institutions in the outer metropolitan areans of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth-areas which have large and rapidly growing populations and which are under-served by higher education. The high cost of travelling to inner city institutions has deterred a number of young people, especially those from low income families, from participating in higher education. Expansion will take place particularly in those course areas of greatest relevance to young people, such as economics, business studies, science and the technologies.

Extra places will also be provided in areas of high migrant density such as Wollongong and the western and northern suburbs of Melbourne. The Government's initiative will thus increase opportunities for children from migrant families and will enable courses that are particularly relevant to those students to be expanded. The expansion of places at regional institutions in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland, together with increased funding for off-campus programs and the proposals of institutions in Western Australia and Tasmania to open up study centres in country areas will increase opportunities for the population of rural and isolated areas where participation rates are low.

In 1983, about half of the students entering higher education were female. The Government would expect this pattern to be reflected in the additional places now available in 1984. Special programs at institutions such as Deakin, Griffith and Murdoch Universities should facilitate access for those women returning to study after a long period of absence, or unable to regularly attend lectures on campus. I am also pleased that steps are to be taken to attract more women into traditionally male-dominated courses such as science, computing science, engineering, the technologies and management.

The CTEC has advised that most universities and CAEs already make some special provisions to assist disadvantaged groups to enter and participate effectively in higher education. These provisions include special entry options, the offering of courses by external study, scholarships directed to specific groups, modification of courses and facilities and the provision of special bridging and supplementary courses.

I note that a number of institutions will be further developing these special provisions. I am pleased to see that institutions such as SAIT will be making special efforts through advertising and other means to encourage people from disadvantaged groups to apply for admission. Footscray and Phillip Institutes of Technology and La Trobe University plan to further develop support programs such as counselling services, bridging and course supplementation programs and tutorials in English. The development of off-campus programs at Deakin and Griffith universities should benefit women as well as assisting the participation of disabled students, while initiatives such as pilot courses at Flinders University to attract women into non-traditional areas are also very encouraging. It is of course important to ensure that there is no fall in the quality of education. The Commission is satisfied that while the proposals involve providing extra help at entry, the academic standards of graduating students will be maintained.

As a result of the Government's initiative, it is expected that some 250 to 300 extra academic staff will be taken on in universities and colleges, together with a limited number of non-academic staff. In making academic staff appointments, the Government expects institutions to take account of the Senate Committee's recommendations on tenure in its Report on Tenure of Academics, and the CTEC's published advice on those recommendations. The Government expects to announce its decisions on the Senate Report early in the new year.

I am pleased to see that the technical and further education sector is taking further initiatives in developing programs such as the Tertiary Preparation Course, which I understand will commence in N.S.W. next year at Randwick and Blacktown TAFEs. These courses are designed to give mature-age students study skills which will ease their return to tertiary study after an absence of some years and are an example of initiatives which are very much in line with the Government's aim of increasing participation of disadvantaged groups in tertiary education.

While I am encouraged by the positive response from most institutions to the Government's initiatives, I note with concern that a small number of institutions have announced their intention to reduce intakes in 1984. The Government appreciates that higher than expected enrolments in 1983 have placed extra pressures on institutions. However, the Government expects institutions to make every effort not to reduce intakes in 1984 and in particular to avoid reducing opportunities for school leavers and those entering higher education for the first time.

I have noted the Commission's comments concerning implications for future years , both in terms of recurrent and capital expenditure of the provision of additional recurrent funds for increased participation in higher education in 1984. I have also noted the Commission's proposal that construction should commence on a small number of important capital projects towards the end of 1984 .

Next year is of course the last year of the current triennium and funding decisions for the 1985-87 triennium will necessarily be made in the context of the 1984 guidelines and budget. While the Government intends to continue to encourage increased participation in tertiary education, particularly by disadvantaged groups, it is also concerned, because of overall budgetary constraints, to contain the additional costs so generated to the greatest possible extent.

In accordance with the Commission's recommendations, an allocation of $260,000 has been set aside in 1984 for the initiation of pilot projects which will contribute to the development of future initiatives and to the longer term improvement of access by disadvantaged groups. The Government has also asked the Commission, in the context of its report for the 1985-87 triennium, due early next year, to bring foward recommendations to achieve greater equality of participation by social groups in tertiary education. The Government will look to the Commission to monitor progress towards this objective and will take full account of the Commission's proposals when making plans for the next triennium.

ALLOCATION OF 1984 SUPPLEMENTARY FUNDS FOR HIGHER EDUCATION PARTICIPATION INITIATIVES1

Institution$'000

New South Wales

University of Wollongong 765

Armidale College of Advanced Education 35 Hawkesbury Agricultural College 105 Macarthur Institute of Higher Education 505 Mitchell College of Advanced Education 175 Nepean College of Advanced Education 700 Newcastle College of Advanced Education 140 Northern Rivers College of Advanced Education 225 Orange Agricultural College 140 Riverina College of Advanced Education 140 New South Wales Institute of Technology 140 Total advanced education: 2,305

TOTAL NEW SOUTH WALES 3,070

Victoria

Deakin University 390 La Trobe University 355 Total universities: 745

Ballarat College of Advanced Education 155 Bendigo College of Advanced Education 195 Chisholm Institute of Technology 185 Footscray Institute of Technology 865 Gippsland Institute of Advanced Education 165 Institute of Catholic Education 95 Lincoln Institute of Health Sciences 45 Melbourne College of Advanced Education 110 Phillip Institute of Technology 270 Swinburne Limited 195 Victoria College 180 Warrnambool Institute of Advanced Education 155 Total advanced education: 2,615

TOTAL VICTORIA 3,360

Queensland

Griffith University 210 James Cook University of North Queensland 180 Total universities: 390

Brisbane College of Advanced Education 640 Capricornia Institute of Advanced Education 155 Darling Downs Institute of Advanced Education 210 Queensland Agricultural College 65 Queensland Institute of Technology 275 McAuley Teachers College 40 Advanced Education in TAFE 80 Total advanced education: 1,465

TOTAL QUEENSLAND 1,855

South Australia

Flinders University 135

South Australian College of Advanced Education 345 South Australian Institute of Technology 345 Total advanced education: 690

TOTAL SOUTH AUSTRALIA 825

Western Australia

Murdoch University 260

Western Australia College of Advanced Education 505 Western Australia Institute of Technology 175 Total advanced education: 680

TOTAL WESTERN AUSTRALIA 940

Tasmania

University of Tasmania 25

Tasmanian College of Advanced Education 135

TOTAL TASMANIA 160

TOTAL 10,210

(1) These amounts are expressed in the cost level of the November 1983 Amendments to the States Grants (Tertiary Education Assistance) Act. The amounts will be adjusted in accordance with the approved cost supplementation arrangements applying to higher education recurrent grants. An amount of $260, 000 (in the November 1983 cost level) has been allocated to support a small number of specific projects in 1984 which will contribute to the longer-term improvement of access by disadvantaged groups. These will be the subject of later recommendations by the Commission.