The formation of undergraduate students is a time of utmost importance for both the students and the future of the nation. The DLP believes that the following changes will increase the quality of life for students and ensure equitable access to university education.
The DLP believes in retaining Start Up Scholarships and making the following changes to the Social Security Act 1991 (Cth):
- Raise the level of student income support payments to the Henderson poverty line;
- Increase the parental means test threshold to the level of Average Weekly Earnings;
- Lower the age of independence from 22 to 18; and
- Reintroduce Centrelink counters at university campuses.
The DLP calls for at least 30% of the Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF) to be provided directly to student groups for their provision of student services.
Start Up Scholarships ease the burden of costs that students are faced with at the start of a semester. Currently, student income support payments are at less that 70% of the Henderson poverty line. Lowering the age of independence to 18 will make means testing fairer. It makes sense that the parental means test threshold be at the level of Average Weekly Earnings. Having Centrelink counters at university campuses will be of immense benefit to students who are often tied to tight weekly schedules, as well as cut the waiting queues at Centrelink offices.
Students are charged a SSAF of up to $263 which can be deferred through a HECS-style income loan. The funds are provided to universities, with the purpose of funding additional student services on campuses like sporting facilities, advocacy and healthcare services. However, some student services are run by students, such as services in advocacy, culture, and representation.
Advocacy could be providing independent help for students who have received an unfair mark, or who have been mistreated by university staff.
Culture includes orientation week activities, campus events, food and beverages, etc.
Representation means having a student voice on boards and committees that make decisions affecting student life on campus.
Providing a proportion of the SSAF directly to student groups for student services is in keeping with the DLP’s principles of decentralisation, distributism and industrial (in this case student) democracy.