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Federal Court ruling adds to brighter picture for disadvantaged students

The ruling by the Federal Court last week in favour of a student being able to claim educational expenses has been hailed as a small but important victory for student support.

Victoria University’s Pro Vice-Chancellor Students Dr Stephen Weller said the ruling effectively means that a majority of VU students will be a few hundred dollars better off each year.

“More than half of our 50,000 students work 15-20 hours each week, which puts them over the income threshold of $15,000, earning them the right to claim their educational expenses,” Dr Weller said.

“It’s a small boost to income but we know that when a large proportion of your students are forced to work because they cannot survive on Austudy or Youth Allowance alone, this means they are able to offset some of their expenses.”

Dr Weller said that the high proportion of VU students in the lowest SES quartile – 20 per cent – plus those from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds – about half – meant the VU student body was particularly vulnerable to the high risk of dropping out or underachievement arising from being forced into the workforce.

“Coupled with significant changes being negotiated through the Senate by the Federal Government, this court ruling is an important one for students,” Dr Weller said.

“The lifting of thresholds for parental income before students are eligible for Austudy or Youth Allowance, and the reduction in the age at which students are deemed independent of their parents mean that more students will receive government support.

“The other factor we can influence is the provision of more student jobs by the University. At VU we are working on increasing the number of part-time jobs available to students so that more are able to work on campus.

“Research from overseas shows that the provision of on-campus employment is one of the most effective ways of retaining students from low SES and CALD backgrounds.”

Dr Weller is available for interview.

 

Media contact: Jim Buckell, A/Senior Media Officer

Marketing and Communications Department, Victoria University

Ph: (03) 9919 4243; mobile: 0400 465 459; email: jim.buckell@vu.edu.au

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