The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Postgraduate Association (NATSIPA) condemns the Government’s proposed changes to university Enabling Courses.
From 1 January 2018, under the Government’s Higher Education Reform Package, students will go from a commonwealth support place to full fee paying. This is a 100% increase of fees to $3271 or the full enabling loading fee.
Enabling Courses fund student commonwealth supported places under programs like the Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program (HEPPP). This change will affect all students enrolled in programs that are funded under HEPPP and will cause a ripple on effect towards a decline in Indigenous student enrolments.
“Enabling programs, like those under HEPPP, are vital to rising numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students”. Says NATSIPA President Sadie Heckenberg. “This fee change is turning enabling programs into an unaffordable educational option.”
NATSIPA is worried this will deter Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from attempting university, which will lead to a smaller cohort of Postgraduate students, lower numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander academics and researchers. With less overall enrolments Australia will see fewer Indigenous doctors, lawyers, teachers, nurses and scientists graduating.
“The government is turning a hope for higher education into an alienating expensive process” Says the NATSIPA President. “More troubling is this is not the end of the reforms! From 2019, universities will need to compete for limited enabling places, which will further disadvantage Low-ESE, Rural, and Remote students. This competitive process has the potential to further disadvantage an already highly disadvantage sector of the population.”
These changes to Enabling Course have all the markings of a revenue raising venture with no regard for the education of the populous, or its already severely disadvantaged groups. NATSIPA Condemns these changes that widen the already large gap Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people face towards higher education and urge the Government to rethink this process.
National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Postgraduate Assoc.