Universities Australia welcomes the proposed legislative changes to student income support that are under consideration by the Federal Parliament this week.
"The passage of the Social Security and Other Legislations Amendment (Income Support for Students) Bill 2009 will give effect to substantial and welcome reforms to student income support, as announced in the May Budget in response to the recommendations of the Bradley Review," Universities Australia Chair, Professor Peter Coaldrake, said today.
Universities Australia supports the broadening of access to Youth Allowance, including reducing the age of independence from 25 years to 22 years and increasing the parental and personal income test thresholds.
The increases to the parental and personal income thresholds will mean that more students from lower socio-economic backgrounds will be able to access the full rate of Youth Allowance, while other eligible students will benefit from the reduction in the allowance taper rate relating to parental income (from 25% to 20%).
"Universities Australia particularly applauds the proposed removal of scholarships from consideration in the personal income test," Professor Coaldrake said.
"The progressive lowering of the age of independence from 25 years to 22 years for the purposes of Youth Allowance is a realistic reflection of the realities of contemporary community. "
"These changes will mean that more students will be eligible for Youth Allowance, and at a higher rate than previously," Professor Coaldrake said.
The Universities Australia's 2006 Student Finances Survey found 71% of undergraduates engage in paid work averaging 14.8 hours per week to support their studies, while one in eight students indicated that they regularly went without food or other necessities simply because they could not afford them.
"In the longer term, more substantial student income support is needed to ensure that students are able to focus on their studies, rather than needing to undertake excessive paid employment to survive.
"To this end, Universities Australia calls upon all members of Parliament to support the amendments proposed in this Bill," Professor Coaldrake said.
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