Sydney, 13 May 2015 – A devastating blow was delivered to disadvantaged and underprivileged students in last night’s budget.
With cuts geared towards key accessibility schemes, the 2015-16 budget has torn through minority groups across Australia to the deficit of our overall education output.
“Australian universities are slipping down the ranks in international competitiveness. A lack of diversity, innovation and collaboration is going to be to the detriment of our entire higher education sector,” says Vice President (Equity) of the Council of Australian Postgraduate Students (CAPA), Mia Kwok.
Students supported by the Higher Education Participation Program (HEPP) will find $5million stripped from their funding. The program covers people from low socio-economic backgrounds, students with disabilities, ATSI students, and a number of other diverse background with high barriers to entry.
“It would be absolutely devastating to see the barrier to entry rise even further out of the reach of talented students,” Kwok says. “Already around 45% of people with a disability live below the poverty line. What the Abbott Government is asking is for students to take on more debt with less support.”
In conjunction with this is the winding down of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Higher Education Advisory Council (ATSIHEAC); CAPA has serious concerns for the ongoing diversity and accessibility to higher education.
“There is currently only one Indigenous research student to every one hundred research students,” says President of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Postgraduates Association (NATSIPA) Sharlene Leroy-Dyer.
“This government has shown so little respect for our community. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students are bright and driven individuals who are being restricted from participating in the higher education sector. The support needs to be there and it needs to be there now,” Leroy-Dyer says.