Liberals and Nationals oppose expanding Indigenous access to university, as Accord Legislation passes Senate

The Albanese Government is opening the door of opportunity for more Australians with the passage of Universities Accord legislation through the Senate today.

The Higher Education Support Amendment Bill 2023 Bill passed despite opposition from the Liberal and National parties.

The Bill delivers demand-driven funding for all Indigenous students to attend university if they qualify for admission to the course.

It doesn’t mean university is free, students will still pay HECS, but it guarantees a place at university to all Indigenous students who get the marks for the course they want to study.

At the moment this only applies to Indigenous students who live in regional Australia. Now it will apply to all.

The Universities Accord Interim Report says doing this could double the number of Indigenous students at university in a decade.

The Liberal and National parties have voted against this.

The Bill also removes the 50 per cent pass rule. This rule has disproportionately had a negative impact on students from poor backgrounds and those from regional Australia.

More than 13,000 students at 27 universities have already been hit by this.

If the Opposition had their way, they would continue this unfair rule that forces students to quit. Instead, we are supporting them to pass.

This Bill also requires that universities have in place a dedicated plan—a Support-For-Students policy—to proactively identify students who are at risk of falling behind and set out what they will do to help them succeed.

The implementation of other priority recommendations includes doubling the number of University Study Hubs from 34 to 68 in regional and suburban Australia. This will give more students who live outside major cities access to tertiary education.

The final Universities Accord Report will be delivered to Government by the end of the year.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Education, Jason Clare:

“The Australian Universities Accord Interim Report makes it clear that more and more jobs will require a university qualification in the future.

“Almost one in two Australians in their thirties have a university degree today. But not everywhere.

“Only 15 per cent of people from poor families have a university degree today. And it’s even lower if you are Indigenous.

“After a decade of neglect, the Opposition has dropped the ball on giving more Australians a crack at going to uni.

“The position of the Liberal and National parties is deeply concerning.

“This passage of this legislation will open the door of opportunity wider for more Australians.”