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December 4, 2014

Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester says there is growing support from regional universities for the government’s higher education reforms.

The Regional University Network, which includes Federation University, has urged the Senate to pass the Higher Education and Research Reform Bill 2014 bill.

RUN said in a media release on December 3 that it was “not in the interest of students or universities to continue to let this issue drag on” and the new Bill should pass.

Mr Chester said the Bill introduced to the House of Representatives on Wednesday would make university more accessible for regional students.

“It is now clear the strong majority of universities want to see these important education reforms passed by the Senate,” Mr Chester said.

“There are many young Gippslanders and their families who want certainty on this issue.

“A number of changes have been made to the original reform bill after negotiations with crossbench Senators. These changes will benefit regional universities and students from disadvantaged backgrounds.”

Mr Chester said university participation rates among Gippsland school-leavers remained below-average and he wanted to see more students pursuing higher education, if that was their aim.

Changes to the original Higher Education and Research Reform Amendment Bill 2014 include keeping the student loan debt to the rate of CPI; a pause on HECS indexation for primary carers with a child under five, and a structural adjustment package to help regional universities transition to a more competitive market.

The Commonwealth will also fund new scholarships within the Higher Education and Participation Program for universities with high proportions of low SES students.

Federation University was among the higher education providers that had called for the adjustment package.

“We’ve seen Labor and the National Tertiary Education Union try to run a scare campaign on course fees,” Mr Chester said.

“But I’m confident the public will start seeing through these misleading claims and acknowledge there is increasing momentum for these reforms to pass the parliament.”

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