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Gillard Government's Youth Allowance reforms deliver record results



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Gillard Government's Youth Allowance reforms deliver record results MON 23 MAY 2011

Prime Minister, Minister for Tertiary Education

More people are receiving Youth Allowance support than ever before according to new figures released today.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard today said there had been an increase of 21,000 university students receiving Youth Allowance in just one year as a result of the reforms to the system made by the Government last year.

These changes mean more students from lower socio-economic backgrounds and rural and regional areas can afford to attend university and get a degree.

As a result, hundreds of students are becoming the first members of their families to attend university.

The Prime Minister and Minister for Tertiary Education, Senator Chris Evans today met students from the University of Canberra who have benefited from Youth Allowance support.

In April last year, the Gillard Government implemented reforms to Youth Allowance payments to give more students the opportunity to go to university by targeting financial assistance to those with the greatest need.

In just 12 months the reforms to Youth Allowance have seen a:

• 15 per cent increase in the total number of university students receiving Youth Allowance - 135,000 students in March 2010 compared to 156,000 this year • 108 per cent increase in the number of dependent university students from disadvantaged backgrounds receiving the maximum Youth Allowance rate • 22 per cent increase in the number of rural and regional university students receiving

Youth Allowance.

The reforms are driven by strong values of the Gillard Labor Government - to ensure that the opportunity of a high quality university education is available to all Australians, regardless of their background or where they live.

A key element of the reform package was to significantly increase the Parental Income Test threshold from $33,300 to $45,114 (indexed annually) to better target the assistance to those who need it most.

This has significantly increased the number of students from low income families who are now eligible for the maximum rate of Youth Allowance.

The cumulative effect of the Government’s changes is that more than 107,000 young people are eligible for Youth Allowance for the first time or are receiving more money than before.

More than 36,000 of these young people are from rural and regional areas.

The Gillard Government’s new scholarships program is also proving to be highly successful in helping more students overcome financial barriers to attending university.

More than 240,000 university students have received Student Start-Up Scholarships towards their education costs over the last 12 months - each worth $2,194 in 2011.

This year, the Gillard Government will fund more than 480,000 undergraduate places at public universities. With the uncapping of student places in 2012, that is likely to rise to more than half a million places - a 20 per cent increase since 2008.

Commonwealth expenditure on higher education is projected to increase to $13 billion in 2012. That is an additional $5 billion, up from $8 billion in 2007 - to support more research and even better teaching and learning.

That’s a profound investment in Australia’s future and our young people.

These reforms mean that many more Australians will have the opportunities to access the high-paid jobs of the future.

Helping young people achieve a university qualification is also vital to ensuring Australia meets the employment needs of a productive economy.