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Wednesday, 24 October 1973
Page: 2645

Mr COOKE (Petrie) - Now that the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) is with us I take the opportunity of raising the question of the Government's policy with regard to universities. The Government proposes to make university education free. I imagine that the rationale behind this is to encourage a higher proportion of students from working class backgrounds to go through to university education. As the Minister well knows, the University of Western Australia has been a free university since its inception. Can the Minister provide any figures for the Committee to show the proportion of working class studends who currently are attending at the University of Western Australia, and whether that proportion varies from the proportion in other universities of Australia that are not free?

Is it not a fact that in Western Australia fees have been charged which are equivalent roughly to fees which are charged by other universities, although the fiction has been maintained that the University of Western Australia is still free? Does he see that the same processes which have overtaken the University of Western Australia will eventually overtake all universities in Australia notwithstanding his

Government's proposal to make university education free? The last point I should like to raise for the Minister's consideration is this: What will happen in faculties where quotas are applied? Will places be given to students on the basis of merit at examinations, by some other system, on a ballot system or on some basis of need? If one makes university education free, one necessarily assumes that universities will be open to any student who has a basic educational qualification. This of course will be nugatory if quotas are imposed. Perhaps the Minister might like to comment on those points in regard to university education when he speaks in this debate.

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