Call for change to youth allowance

Call for change to youth allowance

20 May 2009

A La Trobe representative has called for a fair go for gap year student

Delay Youth Allowance changes to help current gap year students: La Trobe

‘The Federal Government should protect current gap year students from its proposed changes to the independent Youth Allowance,” says La Trobe University Acting Pro Vice Chancellor (Regional), Dr Andrew Harvey.


‘La Trobe welcomes the overall improvements in the Budget to student support, but one particular change will disadvantage many potential students. '


Under the proposal, school leavers who take a year off to work before starting university will need to work 30 hours per week for eighteen months to qualify for the Youth Allowance.  However, many current gap year students had assumed they would qualify for the allowance by working 15 hours per week for two years under the current provision.  This means there are potentially thousands of students who have acted in good faith but will not be eligible for the allowance if there is no amendment to the legislation.


‘La Trobe is the largest provider of higher education in regional Victoria, and we have many students currently deferred who, under the new rules, may no longer be eligible for income support next year. '


‘This is unfair to the students concerned, and it is also unhelpful to the goal of raising participation rates of regional and low socio-economic students,’ says Dr Harvey.


Dr Harvey suggests that a ‘grandfather’ clause be added to the proposed legislation, which would exempt current gap year students from the new requirements.  Next year’s cohort of deferring students would of course be subject to the new provisions.


Up to 30,000 gap year students (Australia-wide) are at risk of being affected by the changes; social and cultural factors mean that university deferral rates in rural and regional areas are up to 2.5 times higher than in metropolitan centres.


‘A delay in implementation of the new system would assist students who have planned around a break in study to achieve access to Youth Allowance and enable them to return to study,’ says Dr Harvey.

ENDS

Mark Pearce, Media and Communications, La Trobe University
T:03.9479.5346 M:0423 783 756 E:m.pearce@latrobe.edu.au

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