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Thursday, 29 October 1970

Mr REYNOLDS (Barton) - First, I wish to take up the question of scholarships and tertiary scholarships particularly. I understood the Minister for Education and Science (Mr N. H. Bowen) to say by way of interjection earlier that the number of tertiary scholarships on issue at the moment is approximately 67,000. Was that the figure?

Mr N H Bowen (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - No. The total number of scholarships was over 60,000.

Mr REYNOLDS - I thought that, at the time, the Minister said tertiary scholarships. The number of scholarships in circulation as at 30th June of this year was 61,048, of which 30,510 were for Commonwealth university scholarships and 4,656 were advanced education scholarships. In total, tertiary scholarships available reached approximately 35,000 which is somewhat less than the figure that I thought was intimated'-

Mr N H Bowen (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Well, the honourable member has left out post graduate scholarships.

Mr REYNOLDS - They must be added too, but they do not amount to that many. The point is to recognise that we are looking at this matter of scholarships and that a factor relevant to the 2 Bills under consideration is the number of people who will gain entry to these institutions which the Commonwealth is supporting. Looking at the matter of university scholarships - and I do not intend to go into this subject in any detail - we find that this year 7,500 open entrance scholarships ate available. I think that these scholarships cater for not much more than 20 per cent of applicants for such scholarships.

It is notorious that Commonwealth reports on scholarships always indicate the number of scholarships that were made available but do not tell us how many people applied for those scholarships. This information is very important. I would recommend that, in future reports, an indication should be given of the extent to which the number of scholarships being made available caters for the need. This year, there was an increase in later year awards at university level up to 4,000. But I understand that those 4,000 later year awards are to cater for 70,000 university students. Obviously they will not go around that number of university students who are in second or later years of their university courses. I suggest that 4,000 scholarships is not a very generous number to whack up among 70,000 students.

I turn to the field of Commonwealth advanced education scholarships. The number was increased this year to 2,500. But as my colleague, the honourable member for Bendigo (Mr Kennedy), mentioned earlier, there were 43,375 applicants for those 2,500 scholarships. In other words, 6.1 per cent of the total number of applicants could expect to obtain a scholarship. As a matter of fact, I am concerned as to what is happening to these advanced education scholarships. Last year, 1,500 were available and, speaking from recollection, 1 think there were 37,000 applicants. Yet, the Commonwealth could not dispose of the whole 1,500 available scholarships. lt is a fact that out of a total of 1,500 open entrance scholarships which were available last year the Commonwealth was able to award 840 only; yet, there were 37,000 applicants. It must be admitted that some of these people - presumably a great many of these people - do apply for more than one kind of scholarship. But I do not understand why such a low proportion of students - I think the figure given in answer to a question asked by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) was 8.4 per cent - attending colleges of advanced education is in receipt of Commonwealth scholarships. Yet some of the rather small number of scholarships - 1,500 - that were available last year could not be awarded. I am wondering what is happening. Whatkind of conditions are being imposed on the award of such scholarships? Even of those scholarships that are awarded, we have to ask ourselves whether they are going to the people most in need of them. The categoric answer must be: Certainly not. They are being awarded on merit, and this means that a big proportion of the relatively scarce number of scholarships is going to the sons and daughters of parents in the upper income groups, particularly the professional classes. The sad thing as far as I am concerned is that the trend is not getting any better. The trend is just as bad now as it was about 7 years ago. There are still comparatively few youngsters from the low income groups getting through and doing a tertiary education course. I am talking about youngsters who have been assessed as quite capable of undertaking such a course.

Mr N H Bowen (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Would the honourable member cut out giving the scholarships on merit?

Mr REYNOLDS - I certainly would. I make no bones about it, and the Labor

Party makes no bones about it. If we are to give only a small number of scholarships in relation to the number of applicants I would rather help the person for whom a scholarship was absolutely critical in deciding whether he could go on with his education or not. Now that the Minister has asked this question, 1 refer also to our policy on scholarships for secondary education. We are not confronted with that position, and we are not confronted with the position that the Minister posed to me a moment ago. In the 1963 elections we promised to give secondary scholarships to every child for the last 2 years of senior school. We were not confronted with this kind of selection and if we had been we would have given these scholarships to people who qualified and for whom a scholarship was necessary to enable them to go on. We would not be interested if we had only scarce number of scholarships available in giving them to parents who could afford to buy extra tuition for their sons and daughters who could afford to get the best textbooks and reference books and to take their children on travels and to provide them with all the things to give extra advantage to those who are already advantaged.

That is where our approach is distinctly different from that of the Government. We have said that we will give scholarships to every secondary school child in the last 2 years of school and we will make places in universities free. As recently as last night the Leader of the Opposition announced also that we would make all tertiary education free. We are not faced with that kind of selection process but I am indicating what we would have done if we had been in the position of the Government with a relatively small number of scholarships available and having to choose between the sons and daughters of wealthy people and those of people who may be needy. I know, and the Minister and every member in this House must know, that for many of the comparatively wealthy people this scholarship allowance is no more than pin money to use as a deposit on a new model sports car. Yet, to take it to the other extreme, the sons and daughters of widows are going out to work. For them that scholarship would be a tremendous value, yet they are deprived of it. Research has been done into this matter - not enough, but there has been research. Professor Fensham in Victoria has done some research - the Commonwealth has not done nearly enough - to show what kind of people are getting scholarships and to establish whether they are the people we want to get them. If we are looking at this business of who gets to university and who gets to colleges of advanced education we have to look at student assistance while we are on the job.

I come back to this Bill. I have been following a long line of people who have talked around the subject, but 1 suggest that what I have said is relevant. That part of the Bill which relates to university salaries is based on an inquiry carried out by Mr Justice Eggleston. I want to draw the Minister's attention to some other things that Mr Justice Eggleston bad to say in his report. He recommended that future inquiries should not be forced upon him at such short notice and under such pressure of urgency. In March this year he and his assistants were called upon to carry out this inquiry to determine a salary adjustment that was to date back to 1st January this year. Here we are nearly at the end of the year making salary adjustments dating back to 1st January. Even this has been made possible only because the inquiry was carried out in haste and, as Mr Justice Eggleston himself indicates, without facing up to all the kinds of questions that might have been dealt with.

He also suggests the need for a more general inquiry o deal with such matters as the possible need for extra classifications or categories in the staff structure. For instance, he noted that in the medical field there is a differential available. There is a loading available for persons in the faculty of medicine. It applies only at the professorial level; it does not apply at the subprofessorial level. He thinks that it might well be applied at this level. There are loadings also for professors in other faculties. There could be loadings for those who have extra responsibility, more students or more staff under their care than some other professor in a comparatively limited faculty. He thinks that these matters of differentials and loadings should be faced up to, but under the pressures of his inquiry he was not able to deal with them. He stated on page 17 of the copy of the report that 1 have:

If a general inquiry is to be held it should be set in train in the not too distant future.

He said that it should be undertaken not when the triennium is under way but well before the triennial provisions start. Instead it has been left not to the last minute but well past the last minute. The provisions in this Bill relating to professors and associate professors and readers are a direct result of his recommendations. Quite frankly, I cannot follow how we derived the salary levels for senior lecturers, lecturers and junior lecturers. He makes a straight out recommendation for the 2 categories I have mentioned, that is professor and associate professor or reader. I commend to the Government's notice his warnings or his advice in the matter of carrying out a general inquiry and setting it in train shortly.

While we are talking about these salaries and the provisions for universities, I mention that I came across some figures that to me are quite startling, even making allowance for the fact that at the Australian National .University we have a higher proportion of post graduate training than at the State universities. I want the House to take notice of the allocations to universities in the various States. In New South Wales the annual recurrent grant per equivalent full time student at the universities was $1,428. In Victoria it was $1,447 and in Queensland $1,428. Honourable members will notice that the amounts are all in the same range. The amount for South Australia was a little higher. It was $1,511. For Western Australia it was $1,472 and for Tasmania it was a little higher still - $1,617. The average for all States was $1,493 per equivalent full time student. But what was the amount in the Australian Capital Territory at the Australian National University? It was $5,700 per equivalent full time student. In other words, the allocation from all government sources is 4 times as great per full time student at the ANU as it is at the State universities. Is it any wonder that there are plenty of cries, probably not from the Australian National University, but certainly from the honourable member for Ryan (Mr Drury) about the University of Queensland at St Lucia?

Mr N H Bowen (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Has the honourable member included the Institute of Advanced Studies?

Mr REYNOLDS - I have allowed for that. It is not so much a case of what I think; it is a case of what the universities think, what their staff associations think and what the State governments think about the kind of generosity that apparently is available from the Commonwealth in respect of the ANU as compared with State universities. If honourable members think that the honourable member for Ryan was telling a sad story about the University of Queensland, let me quote a little from the 1969 report of the University of New South Wales. It states:

An analysis of the recurrent budget position for the period 1970-1972 shows that the University would experience very considerable difficulty in meeting its commitments if the planned student numbers were accepted. The University, therefore, in the later part of 1969 look drastic steps to limit its expenditure including deferring the appointment of teaching staff until 1970, suspending action on the filling of non-academic staff vacancies, and limiting expenditure on materials, major plant and books to 90 per cent of allocations.

Later the report stated:

The State Government has been sympathetic with the University's problems and has renewed its approach to the Commonwealth Government on the matter of supplementation of grants in connection with non-academic salary increases to date. 1 see nothing about provision for nonacademic salaries in the Bills before us. If the universities are in this sorry plight, what is wrong with the Australian Universities Commission? Tertiary education - colleges of advanced education and universities - is doing well from this Government compared to what happens to primary, secondary and pre-school education, education of the handicapped and technical education. They are poverty ridden so far as the Commonwealth is concerned. We are now talking about the area in which the Commonwealth is most generous, yet this is the situation in at least 2 universities that we have mentioned - the Queensland University and the University of New South Wales. I am sure that if we made inquiries we would find that most other universities have complaints, not about academic luxuries but about the absolute necessities of academic and non-academic staff - about the material requirements of the universi ties. The Commonwealth has a pretty high power body, the Australian Universities Commission, which is supposed to make the triennial grants. Was my colleague from Bendigo (Mr Kennedy) right when he said that for political purposes the recommendations of the Australian Universities Commission are being pruned to meet what the Government is prepared to make available? If this is so, it is no wonder our universities are struggling. The honourable member for Bendigo recounted the even sorrier plight of the new colleges of advanced education. 1 have examined the schedule to the Bill which contains details of allocations for each of the universities, but the Parliament has not been told anything about what these amounts mean in relation to the number of staff at the various levels. We have been given no information about what kind of staff-student ratio will be provided for over the triennium. We do not get any of this kind of information. Whence are we supposed to derive it? It is about time the Government recognised that if these matters are to be considered in a serious vein - if they are to be considered in a sensible way - honourable members must have the sort of information that I am suggesting should have been made available. Even in the field where the Government prides itself on being relatively generous there are distinct problems. I am not sure that the grants that are being made under the provisions of these 2 Bills will remedy the problems.

Before I resume my seat I warn to add my words to the pleas that have been made in so many other places already, that it. is about time the Commonwealth shared 50-50 with the universities in respect of recurrent grants - the running costs of universities and the salaries and that sort of thing. These are really big items for any institution and it is not good enough for the Commonwealth to ask the States to meet these costs on the basis of a Si commonwealth contribution for every SI. 85 that the State spends. This is an almost $2 for Si relationship. I do not think the States will ever overcome their problems, and their lower levels of education will not improve while the States are required to spend $1.85 to obtain a grant of SI from the Commonwealth. I think that the Wark Committee and various other committees recommended that the Commonwealth should contribute $1 for $1 for recurrent grants just as it does with respect to capital grants.

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