Allan Reinikka

Regional university students will need help with changes

REGIONAL students and universities should be given extra help to adjust to a deregulated fee market, the committee examining the government's higher education reforms has urged.

And despite calls from the university sector to balance fee deregulation with less than the proposed 20% cut to government contributions to fees, the government pressed ahead with debate on the un-changed bills on Wednesday.

The debate, scheduled for late Wednesday afternoon, also follows Clive Palmer reiterating his party's opposition to the reforms.

Labor and The Greens were also steadfast in their opposition to the changes.

The Senate Education and Employment committee, led by Victorian Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie, recommended two key points that were a win for regional students and universities.

The first was that the Commonwealth Scholarship scheme guidelines be changed to help address some of the financial barriers faced by students from lower socio-economic backgrounds and regional communities.

The Regional University Network also had a win, as the committee called for an adjustment package for regional universities as they changed to a deregulated fee market.

Meanwhile, a survey released by Universities Australia on Wednesday found 56% of Australians backed the reforms only if interest on student loans remained at CPI, and not the proposed attachment to the higher government bond interest rate.

The Senate was expected to debate the bills on Wednesday night.

- APN NEWSDESK


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