Anthony Albanese’s university revolution: Jason Clare announces affirmative action plan for Indigenous Australians, help for failing students and push for more Australians to get degrees
All Aboriginal students are guaranteed a place if they double their grades, to encourage more uni students The Morrison government’s rule to scrap 50 per cent pass funding
The Antony Albanese government today announced sweeping changes to the higher education sector, unveiling an affirmative action plan to double the number of Indigenous students at university over the next decade.
Recommendations the government will adopt include guaranteeing funding for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander universities who achieve the required grades, help for failing students and pushing more young people to get degrees.
Education Minister Jason Clare said: ‘More and more jobs require university degrees.
‘That means we will need more people with university qualifications in the years ahead.’
Education Minister Jason Clare (pictured) says Indigenous Australians are more likely to go to prison than university
The government’s $34 million plan will double the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students going to university over the next decade (stock image).
At the moment, only indigenous students in rural and remote areas are guaranteed funding spots, which the government says puts those living in urban areas at a disadvantage.
Mr Clare estimated the measure would cost $34 million over the next four years, representing a ‘pretty good investment’.
‘If you’re a young Aboriginal person today, you’re more likely to go to jail than go to university,’ Mr Clare told ABC radio.
‘It costs about $120,000 to incarcerate someone every year. A university place costs $11,000.’
He added: ‘It’s not about lowering standards: you must get the marks and qualify for the course.
‘If you qualify for the course, you are guaranteed entry to a Commonwealth-supported place.’
According to data from the Productivity Commission, almost 50 per cent of people under 25 are enrolled in a bachelor’s degree in Australia, while only seven per cent of Aboriginal people aged 20 and 30 have a university degree.
The new affirmative action plan could double the number of Aboriginal students entering university by 2034 – from 5,000 to 10,000.
The Universities Accord, which will make more than 70 interim recommendations later Wednesday, also sees the Albanese government invest $66.9 million to double the number of university study centers across the country.
The Morrison government’s 50 per cent pass funding rule will also be scrapped
It is designed to address a major barrier to study for many young Australians: the cost of getting close to a campus or the cost of a long and expensive commute.
The report called for the Commonwealth Grant Scheme, in December 2023, to further secure university funding by extending it to 2024.
It will also expand access to tertiary education for rural and regional students and scrap the 50 per cent pass funding rule, which sees students lose government funding if they fail more than half of their subjects.
The rule was introduced as part of the Morrison government’s job-ready graduate scheme and requires students to pass at least 50 per cent of total attempted units to remain eligible for fee assistance.
It is estimated that more than 13,000 students were forced to drop out because of the rule – most of them from poor backgrounds.
Mr Clare said he would look at introducing legislation to scrap the 50 per cent pass rate rule when Parliament resumes.
‘We shouldn’t be forcing students to drop out, we should be helping them pass and universities should be giving that support to help students,’ he said.
Anthony Albanese’s The Uni Revolution: What We Know So Far
– $34 million is an affirmative action plan to double the number of Aboriginal students at universities over the next decade
– $67 million to double the number of university study centers across the country to encourage people living in remote and rural areas to complete degrees
– Getting rid of the Morrison government’s 50 per cent pass funding rule, which saw students lose government funding if they failed more than half of their subjects.