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‘HELP’ not reliant on a pass

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Grace Frost
Grace Frost
Hi, I'm Grace Frost. I was honoured to report for the Review as their Digital Journalist from mid-2022 to the beginning of 2024. Ive since made a move to the Herald Sun.

UNIVERSITY students who fail more than half of their classes will no longer be disqualified from student loan assistance – meaning they will not have to pay upfront if they wish to continue higher education.

Students taking at least eight units in tertiary education will be eligible to a Commonwealth-supported place, Higher Education Loan Program – HECS-HELP and FEE-HELP – despite the grades they receive in those units.

The implementation of the new eligibility rule will see thousands benefit in the region, with more than 16,000 in the City of Whittlesea and 2000 in the Mitchell Shire enrolled as tertiary students, including TAFE, in 2021.

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The Federal Government announced the change last month as one of five action items listed in the Australian University Accord Interim Report to improve the education system.

The 50 per cent pass rule was implemented under the government’s Job-Ready Graduates package.

Under the report, the rule was found to ‘disproportionally disadvantage’ students from the regions and low socio-economic backgrounds.

Federal Member for McEwen Rob Mitchell said once the rule was removed from legislation, it wouldn’t apply to new and existing students.

“These are students being forced to quit and most of them are from poor backgrounds,” he said.

“It means there will be more support and attention paid to students to help them to pass, not to force them to quit.”

The government is also investing $66.9 million to increase the number of university study hubs across the country, with 20 regional hubs and up to 14 suburban study hubs to make attaining a degree more achievable.

Currently 34 Regional University Study Hubs operate under the Regional University Study Hubs program for better access to education in remote and regional areas.

“Bringing higher education closer to students in the regions will work hand in hand with the support needed to ensure students are achieving in their studies, exactly what the Albanese Government aims to do with removing the 50 per cent pass rule for HECS,” Mr Mitchell said.

The locations of the hubs will be determined through an independent process by the Department of Education.

An additional priority area outlined in the report is ensuring that Indigenous students are eligible for a funded place at university, which currently only applies to Indigenous students who live in regional Australia.

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