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The scholarship fig leaf: They won’t improve access for all

Perry, L. (2014) The scholarship fig leaf: They won’t improve access for all. The Conversation, 4 July 2014 .

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Alongside higher fees and real interest rates on student debts, this year’s federal budget announced 20% of universities' additional revenue will go towards equity scholarships. But will this measure increase the proportion of underrepresented students in Australian universities, or is it a fig leaf to sell a budget package that would otherwise be seen as an attack on equity and access?

As many commentators have noted, budget reforms will very likely increase stratification between universities and reduce access for students from underrepresented groups. These groups include Aboriginal students, students from low socio-economic backgrounds and students from remote communities.

Education Minister Christopher Pyne said the purpose of these scholarships was to “expand opportunities” for these very students. Whether they will work to that effect seems unlikely for a number of reasons.

Publication Type: Non-refereed Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Education
Publisher: The Conversation Media Group
Copyright: The Author
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