by Alan Thornhill
Tertiary students from regional areas will be able to get extra help in the New Year.
Two Federal Ministers said about 20,500 would benefit.
Senator Chris Evans, who is Tertiary Education Minister and Regional Development Minister Simon Crean said they would get the extra help through Youth Allowance scheme from January 1.
They said that tertiary students from inner regional areas across Australia would then be able to access independent Youth Allowance the same way students in outer regional and remote areas can.
“Students from Mount Gambier, Mackay and Bunbury will be treated the same as students from Port Lincoln, Townsville and Kalgoorlie,” Senator Evans said.
“Around 5500 students will now get access to Youth Allowance payments for the first time, or will receive a higher rate of payment each year.
In recognition that dependent students from regional areas often experience high costs to move from their home town for study, the Gillard Government has also increased the value of Relocation Scholarships for regional students,” he added.
From 1 January 2012, eligible students from regional and remote areas will be able to access $4,000 in the first year they are required to live away from home to study at university, $2000 in the second and third year and $1000 in subsequent years.
Mr Crean, said the changes would benefit around 15,000 regional higher education students per year over the duration of their degree.
“The number of regional students attending university is once again on the increase after a decade of decline under the Howard Government,” he said.
“Regional universities have strong relationships with their local communities and are vital partners in social and economic development of Australia’s regions.
“Young people who study in the regions tend to stay in the regions.
“This is a great outcome for regional communities and is a direct result of the Gillard Government’s investment in higher education in our regions.”
From January 1 the age of independence will also be reduced to 22, making an additional 11,000 students eligible for independent Youth Allowance.
The Youth Allowance reforms come on top of the other practical steps the Australian Government has taken to help regional young people go to university including:
- increasing total regional loading for universities by $109.9 million over four years to $249.4 million to help overcome the higher costs of running regional campuses;
- changing indexation arrangements in 2011 to increase funding for Universities and commissioning the Higher Education Base Funding Review to look at the levels of funding required to ensure Australian higher education remains internationally competitive;
- establishing a demand driven funding system for undergraduate university places and increasing overall funding for undergraduate places by almost $4 billion over six years from 2010;
- increasing the number of Australian Government supported undergraduate places at public universities by around 10 per cent since 2009; and
- allowing universities to charge a Student Services and Amenities Fee to provide essential services and facilities such as child-care, counselling, sport and recreation and accommodation.
Alan Thornhill is a parliamentary press gallery journalist.
Private Briefing is updated daily with Australian personal finance news, analysis, and commentary.
Saturday May 25
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