Changes hurt uni students

BUNDABERG school leavers could be forced to wait up to two years to start university if they want Youth Allowance, after the Federal Government's changes were passed in Parliament yesterday.

Under the new measures, students wishing to claim Youth Allowance when they attend university will have to first work for 30 hours per week for 18 months.

This will mean instead of taking a one-year gap between school and university, many students may decide to wait two years.

Minister for Education Julia Gillard said the move would benefit more than 100,000 students.

She said Labor's changes would mean all students receiving the allowance would be eligible for scholarships, that students and their parents would be able to earn more before they lost their allowance, and students would be able to claim independence earlier.

But Member for Hinkler Paul Neville hit back at the minister's claim that Labor's changes to the Youth Allowance scheme would be good for local families.

“If the minister wants to play the numbers game, I can tell her that more than 700 locals have signed my Youth Allowance petition, protesting her decision to make retrospective changes to the scheme's qualifying criteria,” Mr Neville said.

“Nationwide, thousands of students and parents are distraught over the situation, which will see more than 20,000 students currently undertaking their gap year miss out on Youth Allowance in 2010.”

Mr Neville said it cost regional families between $15,000 and $20,000 each year to have a child move away to attend university and Labor's scheme would unfairly disadvantage students from regional areas.

“Let's face it. Kids from the regions don't often have the option of staying 'on the cheap' with family when they go off to pursue their studies in the city, so Labor's policies are going to make their lives, and the lives of their parents, very difficult indeed,” he said.

'Thousands of students are distraught.'-Paul Neville

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