Student support overhaul mandatory with new bill

Universities, TAFEs and other tertiary providers will need to re-examine their approaches to student support under a new bill developed by Education Minister Jason Clare in the Government’s first legislated response to recommendations from the Interim Accord report.

Mr Clare has introduced legislation to extend demand driven funding for all suitably qualified Indigenous students, and has scrapped the requirement that students must pass 50 per cent of subjects to keep their funded student place, and will also extend government authority over university teaching.

The new Bill makes mandatory for all HE providers a “support for students policy under which they will be required to proactively identify students who are at risk of falling behind and set out what they will do to help them succeed.”

Mr Clare has 11 ideas on what a policy should include but said there will be a discussion paper this week. And to make sure institutions do what they are told he announces an $18,000 fine if they don’t.

The minister also wants the Higher Education Standards Panel to advise on student support under existing thresholds, specifically:

  • whether existing standards cover retention, completion, success in “sufficient” detail;
  • are universities “appropriately implementing” existing standards;
  • if students know the “protections and support” they can access- refunds when institutions don’t asses their ability for a course, let them take on a too-heavy workload or where they have to withdraw for circumstances beyond their control;
  • are improving current standards.

“This is all part of ensuring students are set up to succeed when they attend one of our universities,” he said.

It does not look like he will get any arguments in Parliament. The Senate’s Selection of Bills committee, which decides which legislation needs a closer look by committees, has waived the legislation straight through to the chamber.



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