The Gillard Government’s reforms and investments in higher education are resulting in more Australian students grasping the opportunities that a university education offers, Minister for Tertiary Education, Senator Chris Evans said today.
New analysis released today by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations shows that applications by students from disadvantaged backgrounds in Australia are up strongly since 2009.
The reports show that low socio-economic status students have responded strongly to the Gillard Government’s reforms to make the opportunities of a university education available to a broader range of Australians – with applications by students from disadvantaged backgrounds up the most strongly since 2009.
Increase in university applications – 2009 to 2011
In 2011, applications by low-SES students were up by 12.7% since 2009 – compared with increases of 9.7% for medium-SES applicants and 5.3% for high-SES applicants.
Senator Evans welcomed the figures and said that they showed that the policies being pursued by the Gillard Government to open up the doors of Australia’s universities to a broader range of Australians are working.
In April last year, the Gillard Government implemented landmark reforms to Youth Allowance to give more students the opportunity to go to university by targeting financial assistance to those with the greatest need.
As a result of Labor’s reforms, more students are now receiving the support they need to pursue a university education. In just 12 months, there has been a 108 per cent increase in the number of dependent university students from disadvantaged backgrounds receiving the maximum rate of Youth Allowance.
A key element of the reform package was to increase the Parental Income Test threshold from $33 000 to $45 114, indexed annually. This change has significantly expanded the number of people who are eligible for Youth Allowance, and increased the amount of support they are paid.
In just 12 months, there has been a 35 per cent increase in the number of dependent university students now receiving Youth Allowance. The number receiving the maximum payment over this period has also risen by 15 000, or 36 per cent.
“As a result of our reforms, many students are now attending university as the first in their family to do so,” said Senator Evans.
“It’s good to see that many young Australians who may never have considered university education in the past are now taking up those opportunities.
“More Australians now have the opportunity to gain a university education, regardless of their background or where they live.”
In this year’s budget, the Government is providing $708 million over four years to assist universities to attract, support and retain students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
The Government Government’s goal is to ensure 20 per cent of undergraduates will be from disadvantaged backgrounds by 2020 – up from the long-term average of around 15 per cent.
“These reports show that the Australian Government’s higher education policies are helping more capable students get into university,” Senator Evans said.
The two reports can be found at: www.deewr.gov.au/undergraduateapplicationdata