Page MP Janelle Saffin
Page MP Janelle Saffin

Student help under review

A FORMER vice chancellor who understands the needs of rural and regional students is the ideal person to lead a review of the Australian Government's reforms to student income support, according to Federal Member for Page Janelle Saffin.

Professor Kwong Lee Dow AM has more than 45 years experience in higher education and recently chaired an expert panel for the Victorian Government, which identified the cost of living away from home as a significant barrier students from rural and regional areas faced.

“The government introduced comprehensive reforms to ensure fairer access to income support for students across Australia following the Bradley review of Australian Higher Education in March 2010,” Ms Saffin said.

“The reforms aim to ensure resources go to those young people most in need of assistance, particularly those from low socioeconomic backgrounds.

“The government has brought forward the review of the reforms 12 months and has committed to eliminate the eligibility distinctions between inner and outer regional students seeking independent status, which is fantastic.”

The review will make recommendations that build on the success of the Australian Government's reforms, which have already seen more than 85,000 Australian students benefit greatly from the changes to Youth Allowance payments.

“More than 864 students in the electorate of Page are receiving higher payments because of the new Start Up and Relocation scholarships,” Ms Saffin said.

“Another 360 students have now qualified for the first time because of the more generous parental income test and the lowering of the age of independence to 23 years in 2011.

“Every student has the right to a higher education and I'm especially pleased the Student Income Support Review will have a particular focus on the capacity of rural and regional students to access this level of study.”

Under the terms of reference, the review will:

  • Examine the impact of the student income support arrangements implemented by the Act on equity, with a particular focus on the impact on rural and regional students.
  • Examine the extent to which the objectives of the government's student income support reforms have been achieved.
  • Make any necessary recommendations for changes to student income support policy and programs to achieve these objectives, including appropriate options for new Youth Allowance eligibility arrangements which remove regional eligibility distinctions from January 1, 2012.
  • Consider proposed recommendations within current budget constraints.
  • Recommend appropriate savings that can be made to pay for any changes in eligibility for student income support to better assist those students most in need.

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