A CHARLES Sturt University (CSU) professor is disappointed but not surprised by the suggestion from the Minister for Education Christopher Pyne that the government would consider axing the compulsory fee collected by universities to support student services and re-introducing caps on university places.
CSU dean of students Professor Julia Coyle said in the era of capped university places, students from low socio-economic backgrounds were under-represented at university.
“They were clearly not getting into university and it was not supportive of diversity,” she said.
Mr Pyne has indicated that the Coalition will abolish the student services fee, axe the participation targets for students in higher education, and review the demand driven student system.
Part of the motivation behind capping university places was to ensure quality graduates over quantity.
CSU works with education establishments such as TAFE to provide university education to rural and regional students who do not have access to all the services students in metropolitan areas do and therefore may not perform as well in the Higher School Certificate.
Professor Coyle rejected the idea that an increase of 190,000 university students since the Labor party abolished caps meant a reduction in quality.
“There are lots of different ways to approach quality and if you look at our employability rates at the university, we do extremely well,” she said.
“We’re producing graduates people want to employ.”
Mr Pyne told journalists on Tuesday that the compulsory student services fee was compulsory student unionism by the back door.
Professor Coyle said the compulsory fee went to services such as providing counselling not only for mental health issues but counselling for students to deal with financial crises and accommodation crises and a range of other services such as sporting opportunities.
She said the student body had a say in the allocation of the fee.
Member for Calare John Cobb has been an advocate for regional universities but could not be reached for an interview yesterday.
In a statement he said one of the Coalition’s priorities was to ensure quality of education was given pre-eminence over quantity.
The suggestion by Mr Pyne is just that and therefore Mr Cobb could not comment further on what he thought about the re-introduction of capped places.