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Thursday, 21 September 1972
Page: 1104

Senator McMANUS (VICTORIA) - I desire to ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science. My question relates to the fact that at this time of the year we are accustomed to reading reports that our universities will have to impose quotas on the entry of students and, in consequence, receiving demands that extra universities be provided. However, at the same time we have leaders of universities - a notable example of this came from the Australian National University the other day - pointing out that a considerable num ber of students who enter universities, in some faculties more than 25 per cent, either do not complete the first year or fail and leave at the end of the first year. My question is: Will the Minister give consideration to calling upon the universities to institute some reasonable system of ensuring that those who enter universities arc equipped to get the full benefit from the course rather than the present situation where we have a combination of large numbers dropping out and, simultaneously, the demand for more places?

Senator WRIGHT - In answer to the rather wide ranging question of the honourable senator, let me say that it was the present Commonwealth Government which in the mid-1950s, seeing the deficiencies under which universities were then labouring, made a special point of assisting education in the university field. We have indicated a growing interest in assisting universities. The appropriation to the States by the Commonwealth for the assistance of universities has grown to $94m this year. It was only one half of that amount 6 years ago. If the honourable senator were to take the trouble of looking at the annual reports of the Australian Universities Commission and the Australian Commission on Advanced Education he would see that reference is made in them to this question of the entrance to universities of only those people who are qualified and have a reasonable prospect of succeeding in completing their courses. He will recognise also that the establishment of colleges of advanced education is a very potent step designed to enable students more qualified for colleges than universities to undertake tertiary education. I will not delay question time to refer to the other features that are discussed in these reports. 1 think that is a sufficient indication that the 2 commissions have been giving real consideration to this matter. Let us be reminded that our authority in the Commonwealth field does not extend to the implementation of the matriculation standard of entry to universities. That standard is the sole prerogative of the governing councils of the universities. That is not withstanding, as I have indicated, that these commissions take into consideration when advising the government how much money should be provided for the assistance of universities.

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