Students critical of funding


By Jen Crothers The federal government has allocated $2.795 million over three years for an additional 175 undergraduate places at Southern Cross University (SCU) in Queensland. All places are funded under the Commonwealth Industry Places Scheme which provides places for up-front fee paying undergraduate students. The university SRC president, Graham Carter, said "What we are witnessing is the continued destruction of free education. First we had HECS, then 'deregulation' allowed for the introduction of up-front fees for post-graduate courses. Now Labor has started introducing up-front fees for undergraduate courses, first for permanent residents and now for industry sponsored students." The university's Equity Department has found that 70% of SCU students are from identifiable equity groups including low socioeconomic background and Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent. These population groups have traditionally been disadvantaged in their quest for university places. According to Carter, funding schemes such as these also raise serious questions about the relationship between universities and business. "They increase universities' reliance on funding from the private sector, increasing the risk of private interests dominating public and community interests", he said.

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