Federal Member for Newcastle Sharon Claydon is requesting direct Ministerial intervention into the Turnbull Government’s plans to charge students $3,200 for students to access critical university preparation courses which have previously been delivered at no cost.
Ms Claydon said she had written to Higher Education Minister Simon Birmingham urging him not to proceed with the changes and inviting him to Newcastle to learn firsthand about the ‘life-changing’ benefits of the university’s Yapug, Newstep and Open Foundation enabling programs.
“The University of Newcastle, which is the largest and oldest provider of enabling education in the country, has assisted more than 42,000 students to gain entrance into higher education and complete their degrees,” Ms Claydon said.
“These programs focus on providing higher education pathways for Indigenous and mature-age students as well as recent school leavers aged between 18 and 20. Many participants are the first ones in their families to go to university.
“I’ve strongly urged the Minister to reconsider and invited him to Newcastle to see how much we stand to lose if the Government’s current plans to cap places, levy large fees and put enabling programs out to tender proceed.”
Ms Claydon said there was clear evidence that enabling programs work.
“Students who undertake enabling programs outperform other groups and have lower drop-out rates when they move on to undergraduate study,” Ms Claydon said.
“The Government’s plan to charge students will inevitably lock some of the most disadvantaged students out of higher education entirely.
“I’m absolutely certain that if the Minister comes to Newcastle to learn about the success of our enabling programs and personally meet staff and students that he’ll realise the travesty of his Government’s plan.”