Title STATES GRANTS (UNIVERSITIES) BILL 1970
Second Reading
Database House Hansard
Date 21-05-1970
Source House of Reps
Parl No. 27
Electorate Maranoa
Speaker CORBETT, James
Stage Second Reading
System Id hansard80/hansardr80/1970-05-21/0176


STATES GRANTS (UNIVERSITIES) BILL 1970 - Second Reading


Mr CORBETT (Maranoa) - With reference to the Bill before the House. I just want to make some comments, some of them with particular reference to my own State of Queensland. I do not want to take up more time than I need to and I think the illustrations I will give will serve to emphasise the point I want to make. Student residences at Australian universities are of 2 types - the traditional affiliated residential college which is sponsored by a church or other organisation or the university hall of residence which is responsible to and is an integral part of the university. The part they play in education might be demonstrated by the fact that in April 1969 there were 46 affiliated residential colleges accommodating 6,641 students and 26 halls of residence accommodating 4,313 students. Both figures are for the whole of Australia.

The Acts which established the 6 Stale universities in the second half of the nineteenth century and the early years of the twentieth century provided for the setting up of residential colleges. The acceptance of the 6 Australian colonies, which later became States, and the doctrine of free. compulsory and secular education of all citizens placed a heavy financial burden on the States. They relied to a great extent upon churches for the establishment and control of colleges and, while the amounts provided by governments for residential colleges varied among the States, it is generally true to say that the amounts decreased over the years so that the time lag between the establishment of a university and the foundation of collegeaffiliated with it became longer, lt is also true to say that because the colleges found it necessary to charge comparatively high fees they came to be regarded as abodes for the privileged and wealthy. This has been improved on very greatly. We sometimes think we are not making progress, but in this field we have.

After World War 11 the colleges were faced with 2 urgent problems - the influx of ex-servicemen studying under the Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme and the pressures of inflation. No large scale building programmes were embarked upon and students were packed in, leading to a large increase in residential student numbers. Two important steps after 1945 greatly helped the colleges. The first was the introduction of the Commonwealth Scholarship Scheme and its subsequent extension in 1951. The provision of a living allowance, subject to a means test, under the scheme brought the prospect of a place at a residential college within the reach of students who were not comparatively wealthy. The second step was the provision of an annual unmatched grant by the Federal Government from 1951 onwards towards the teaching and administrative costs of student residences. The initial grant in 1951 was $50,000 and this has been further improved.

A further land mark in the development of Commonwealth assistance to residential colleges was the report of the Committee on Australian Universities in 1957, commonly known as the Murray Committee, which, recognising the benefits of college experience, recommended that the Commonwealth should provide $1.2m in 1958-60 for capital works for colleges on a $1 for $1 basis with State governments. The acceptance of this recommendation by the Commonwealth invigorated a programme of college expansion. Tn Queensland the provision of Commonwealth aid of $27,500 to each college, together with aid from the Queensland Government of about $200,000 to each college, enabled 7 of the 8 colleges to move to the St Lucia site by the end of I960. Such assistance was particularly important in Queensland where decentralisation of population, unparalleled anywhere else in Australia, dictates the urgent need for residential accommodation. The expansion in residential places for students since 1957 has been well illustrated in figures I have here. I will not quote them because I am trying to save some little time in this address. The total Commonwealth grant to all States for residential colleges, excluding the Australian Capital Territory, between 1958 and 1969 was $21,258,119, while proposed expenditure for 1970-72 is S9,16S,700.

Student residences are an accepted part of university planning. In country areas such as Townsviile or Armidale the existence of a university depends on the provision of student residences. This is demonstrated very clearly by the numbers which I will quote. The number has already been quoted by the honourable member for Denison (Dr Solomon) but I was not in the House to hear them. It is interesting to note that the percentage of students in residences - if the honourable member for Denison has quoted the figures, they are still worth repeating - at the University of New England was 85.9%; at the University of Townsville it was 73.8%; at the University of Tasmania it was 24.5%; and at the University of Queensland it was 20.5%. So of the 4 highest percentages it can be seen that 2 of them came from Queensland. In demonstrating that I might point out that, while that is particularly apparent in those universities, the universities of the cap ta cities also can only fulfil the needs of their students by the establishment of colleges and halls of residence to accommodate country students. It is widely recognised that apart from providing essential accommodation, the colleges offer students unique opportunities for study, discussion and thought. These circumstances which are suitable for study and discussion are not easily found in lodgings other than in these colleges.

In addition to the percentages and the figures I have quoted - and I want to say how pleased I am to see the expenditure for the triennium being completed in the 2 instances that were quoted - J. also want to point to another set of figures taken from the Australian Universities Commission's fourth report of May 1969. This gives the number of students coming from country areas. Here again the decentralisation that operates in Queensland is demonstrated. This is something which 1 believe all governments should take a great interest in and something which should be encouraged. I refer again to this table. It says that the number of students in residence from country areas at the University of Townsville is no less than 87%; at the University of Tasmania it is 73.6% ; at the University of New England it is 72.8%; and at the University of Queensland it is 69.1% - again the 4 highest percentages for students from country areas. I have already mentioned that the halls of residence and these residential colleges do form an essential part of the universities situated in metropolitan areas. 1. rise tonight mainly to stress the tremendous importance to my own State of Queensland and I recognise in some slightly lesser degree this follows throughout the whole of this great Commonwealth of ours. In supporting the Bill, I express the hope that we will continue to improve in every field the standard of education throughout the Commonwealth because we have a need to do it. Those people who have studied education overseas realise this only too well. It is against that background that I have very great pleasure in supporting the Bill.

Dr JENKINS(Scullin) [9.20J- I do not wish to delay the passage of this Bill. I have no objection to it, nor have I any objection to most of the remarks that have been made by other speakers. But this is a Bill that affects Monash University, and I spent something over 8 years on the University Council from the first year of the operations of this institution. Indeed, one of the jobs 1 had arising out of that was to serve for a time on the Naming of Buildings Committee which dealt with the naming of halls of residence. I think it is generally realised that due to an initial misunderstanding on the establishment of Monash, ils origins were hurried along so that it could start operating from 1960. Of course, Monash started the very successful experi ment with these halls of residence in Deakin Hall, which was the first hall at the university.

This Bill deals with the problems of Roberts Hall and, as the Minister for Education and Science (Mr N. H. Bowen) staled in his second reading speech, due to delays in planning, the matching grants from the State had not caught up with the Commonwealth amount for the triennium to 1969. Therefore, this Bill is for the purpose of allowing that amount to be used. I think it should be realised that in this area, with perhaps the somewhat artificially accelerated rate of development of Monash, there has been some advantage in this delay, in that the delay in the expenditure and in the planning that occurred in the preceding triennium allowed the planning of this hall to be integrated with the building programme for the 1970-72 triennium. In effect, because of the delay and now that we have to authorise this expenditure, the University itself will probably end up with a much better residential complex in this sense.

When we speak of these residential colleges we are not necessarily dealing with the total university concept. I think we should remember that these halls provide more than just living quarters for young men and young women who attend these universities. These halls provide the opportunity for them not so much to take part in community affairs, although so many of them do - they are not for the minority who take part in excessive university dissent, and they are very much the minority - but they are places where students are taught to think and to question and, if necessary, to dissent and raise problems. Residential halls as such assist this education by helping students to sort out what they feel is right and wrong and to express their feelings in this way. The students in these residential halls have a great advantage in living with other students, being able to discuss and receiving the guidance of tutors in the college which would not be available to those who did not use residential colleges. It may be that out of the experience of these sorts of colleges the La Trobe University has come forward with the idea that all students there, if not living in, at least should be associated with the residential colleges for various parts of their university life.

I believe that some of the experience of Monash and other universities has probably led to this concept. I am sure it is going to give us much better rounded personalities among the educated people the universities produce because despite all that is said about university students, the majority of them come out as useful citizens, some of them perhaps with my political views or the political views of the Minister for Education and Science. But they are well rounded individuals in their profession, and that is what we want. This is what we want to encourage.

J believe that this concept of residential halls where all students have some association is going to lead to much better development of the future. One of my colleagues mentioned the problem of part time students at the university of Wollongong where residential halls do not have so much effect. I was a part time student during study for my degrees in both science and medicine, so I know what they experience. One of the great criticisms that has been put forward is that amongst these part time students there is a high failure-to-finish rate as far as courses are concerned. But I would suggest that the gaining of a degree is not necessarily the measure of the education of the individual and that many who have failed to finish but who have essayed this part time activity are much better suited for the community because of it.

We should note some of these factors when we are discussing residential halls because while here we have specific instances in Tasmania and Victoria, in the future this Parliament will be faced with many other problems. There will be a problem in Victoria of how we are to set up a fourth university, which undoubtedly will have to be in a country area. If one knows the population distribution of that State one will realise that the residential hall complex at that university will have to be quite large. Our experience in what has been done on a State and Commonwealth co-operative basis in providing residential halls will, I think, allow us to evolve a system rather different from the old Oxbridge tradition and more in the tradition, as mentioned by my honourable friend, of the red brick university.

Most of the universities of today are red brick universities. Perhaps from this experience we will be able to develop universities that give university students not only just a rigid training in a discipline but make them well rounded and well educated individuals, not just technicians who will give great benefit to this country.







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