The Member for Forrest Nola Marino today welcomed the announcement of a new package of measure that a re-elected Coalition Government would introduce to assist regional students into university.

Mrs Marino has campaigned for many years to achieve a greater level of support for regional students.

“I am particularly glad to see the change in qualification to fourteen months for independent youth allowance” Mrs Marino said. “This re-establishes the potential to have a traditional one year gap for our students, as opposed to having to take two years off to qualify.”

The measures announced today are:

  • $83 million to reduce the period students need to be employed under the self-supporting criteria from 18 months to 14 months under Youth Allowance and ABSTUDY living allowance for regional and remote students.

This will mean that a student is able to meet the relevant earnings criteria to prove independence within one GAP year, as opposed to having to work for longer and delay their university commencement. The longer a student is not engaged in further study after university, the less likely it is that they will re-engage.

  • $24 million for 1,200 new Rural and Regional Enterprise scholarships for undergraduate, postgraduate and vocational education students to undertake STEM studies.

A re-elected Coalition will support young Australians living in rural and regional Australia to study and develop new skills in STEM. The scholarships will be valued at up to $20,000 each.

  • $44.7 million to increase Assistance for Isolated Children’s (AIC) Additional Boarding Allowance.

A re-elected Coalition Government will increase by 50 percent the rate of the Additional Boarding Allowance to bring this assistance more in line with the costs of education for isolated families.

The Additional Boarding Allowance provides a means-tested supplementary payment to provide additional support for low-income families whose geographically isolated student boards away from their principal family home.

  • An independent comprehensive review into equity of education access for rural and regional students to seek fresh ideas and fresh thinking to bridge the divide.

There is a need for an Independent Review into Regional Education to address the clear disparity of achievement, aspiration and access to Higher Education by regional students.

Mrs Marino said the package of measures means regional students, many from disadvantaged backgrounds, who face significant financial barriers and who would otherwise not make it into higher education, will have the chance to do so.

“People from regional and remote Australia remain under-represented at universities. While a quarter of the general community lives in regional and remote areas, they represent only one in five students at university.

“We need to do more to raise student aspiration and remove the barriers regional and remote students face entering university, whether at an institution in their region, in their capital city, or online.”