Reforms may hurt numbers at university

David SalvaireSound Telegraph

The Federal Government’s proposed higher education reforms could drive students away from programs at Murdoch University’s Rockingham campus, the institute’s provost has warned.

As part of the proposed reforms, which include $2.8 billion in cuts, the Government wants students to pay for programs like OnTrack.

Murdoch University provost Andrew Taggart said that would lead to a decline in student numbers.

“We’ve had a record number of people enrolled in OnTrack this semester, with 470 across the State, while 90 of those are at the Rockingham campus, but the reforms could hurt that,” he said.

During a recent speech in Parliament, Labor MP Madeleine King echoed Mr Taggart’s claims.

She said it was estimated 350 students a year across Rockingham and Peel would be affected. and labelled the proposed changes a “national disgrace”.

Jennifer Kelly from Waikiki gained entry to Murdoch University as a mature age student through OnTrack, a 14-week program that qualifies students to apply for an undergraduate degree.

She said it was important that OnTrack remain free because “it means anyone has the opportunity to apply for university”.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Rockingham has some of the lowest numbers of people in university in the State, with 8.8 per cent, well below Perth figures (16.5 per cent). To combat the low numbers, the City of Rockingham is moving forward with its Tertiary Scholarship Scheme.

The scheme will be open to Rockingham residents aged 18-40 wanting to enter tertiary education for the first time, to undertake an undergraduate university degree, a TAFE diploma or a recognised alternative pathway to university.

There would be up to 20 places available for university undergraduate entrance to the tune of $10,000 per scholarship, equating to $2500 per year, for up to four years for an undergraduate degree.

Federal Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham was contacted for comment.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails