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CHESTER CALLS FOR $10,000 TERTIARY ACCESS ALLOWANCE

February 15, 2013

The Nationals Member for Gippsland Darren Chester has demanded current and future governments find a better and fairer way to support regional students.

Mr Chester this week told Federal Parliament that a tertiary access allowance of $10,000 was needed to assist regional students to attend university.

He said the biggest obstacle for regional students to achieve their full potential was the economic barrier.

“I believe the system as it exists today needs a complete overhaul and we need to start by recognising the current inequity in the system,” Mr Chester said.

“In my view, a tertiary access allowance should be in the order of something like $10,000 per annum and it should not be linked to parental income.

“This is entirely about fairness and equity.

“We have a desperately long way to go when it comes to regional areas. Regional students remained vastly under-represented at our university campuses.

“I stand here…and demand from this government and from any future coalition government…to find a better way and a fairer way to care for the needs and interests of regional students.”

Mr Chester said regional students should not be required to take a year off study and undertake a gap year to receive student income support unless that was their personal choice.

“The gap year provision has become somewhat anachronistic. It is unfair for students who want to get on with their studies,” Mr Chester said.

“The system of student income support should be making sure that every student in Australia, regardless of where they live, has the opportunity to achieve their full potential.

“We constantly talk in this place about our skill shortage in regional communities, but parents will make a conscious decision to move away from a regional community to a city because they can support their kids better in their university years if they cannot receive income support while they are still in a regional location.

“This is a major social and economic issue. It should not be this hard to get a fair go for regional students.”

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