The Gillard Government’s landmark reforms to the student income support system have resulted in more rural and regional students receiving income support to attend university, Minister for Tertiary Education, Senator Chris Evans said today.
Latest analysis by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations reveals that in just 12 months, the number of inner regional students receiving a Youth Allowance payment has risen by 4 250, an increase of 20 per cent.
During the same period, the number of outer regional and remote students receiving Youth Allowance has also risen by 2 150, an increase of 27 per cent.
“The latest analysis confirms the Gillard Government’s reforms are delivering more support than ever before to help regional students go to university,” Senator Evans said.
“The Government remains committed to removing regional eligibility distinctions for Youth Allowance from 1 January next year and continuing to support regional students.”
As a result of the Gillard Government’s reforms, each year regional university students receiving Youth Allowance are now paid a Start-up Scholarship, worth $2 194 in 2011.
Dependent students who move away from home to study typically receive more than $6 000 during a three year degree to assist with relocation costs.
“As a result of our reforms, more country students are receiving more money to either study at regional universities or to live away from home while studying in our cities.
“For all the Coalition’s scare campaign, the figures tell the true story - more country students are better off as a result of the Gillard Government’s reforms.”
Last week the Prime Minister released figures showing that an additional 21 000 university students now receive Youth Allowance as a result of the reforms.
The Government has better targeted assistance to those most in need, and increased the number of people who are eligible to receive payments.
“It is very pleasing to see that Labor’s reforms have already succeeded in providing more country students with the financial support they need to go to university,” Senator Evans said.
“Regional universities are now growing strongly after years of neglect under the Howard Government. Enrolments at regional campuses have increased by 10 300 undergraduate students since 2007 and this number is set to grow further.”
Senator Evans said the Government’s investment in higher education was delivering real results and opening the doors of university to thousands of regional students.
“For months now the Coalition has run a scare campaign claiming the Government’s reforms have reduced support for regional students,” he said.
“It’s now time to accept the facts and acknowledge that Labor is supporting more regional students than were ever assisted by the Coalition Government.
“Labor has reversed declining regional university enrolments, made a record investment in regional universities, and is providing more financial support to rural and regional students than ever before.”