Release type: Media Release

Date:

Helping disadvantaged students get a university education

Ministers:

Senator the Hon Chris Evans
Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Jobs and Workplace Relations

The Minister for Tertiary Education, Senator Chris Evans, today met with the Acting Vice Chancellor of University of South Australia, Joanne Wright, to discuss the UniSA College program which prepares students from disadvantaged backgrounds for university entry.

Supported by Gillard Government funding of $4 million this year, the innovative program prepares students who would not otherwise have access to the opportunity of university education.

The UniSA program is part of a major investment by the Gillard Government to provide improved support for disadvantaged students to undertake and complete their university qualifications.

“In this year's budget, we have provided $708 million to assist universities to attract, support and retain students from low socio economic status backgrounds through a range of school and university based initiatives,” Senator Evans said.

“This is a critical investment, ensuring our universities reach out to students who may never before have had the chance to get a university education.”

Senator Evans said the Australian economy of the future will require more Australians to be degree qualified.

“By 2025, we will be in a position to reach the national target of 40 per cent of all 25 to 34 year olds holding a qualification at bachelor’s degree level or above,” said Senator Evans.

“To meet that target, universities will need to reach out more than ever before to a broader range of prospective students.

“In this next generation of students, there will be many people who will be the first in their family to embrace the opportunities that a university education can offer, with the promise of a high skilled, high paid job when they graduate.

“Universities are already responding well to this challenge. The University of South Australia offers a free Foundation Studies course through UniSA College which provides an alternate method of entry into undergraduate degree programs.

“Australian Government reforms to student income support last year have already made it financially easier for young people to afford to study, particularly those from families with low incomes.

Senator Evans also discussed the progress of the UniSA’s new learning centre, the $95 millionParticipate@UniSAproject.

The Australian Government is contributing $30 million towards the project, through the Education Investment Fund, to construct a student-centred learning hub with technology-rich learning spaces and integrated student support services that promote student engagement. The Government’s investment will also support the development of a Clinical Education and Training Centre.

The project is currently in the design phase with the learning hub scheduled to be completed by the end of 2013.