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Scholarships, but not a revolution

Full-fee university courses for local students will be phased out by 2009 according to a Labor Party pledge. Labor’s education spokesman Stephen Smith estimated it would cost $300-$400 million to compensate universities for the loss of fees but said it would address the increasing cost of tertiary education and the skills shortage.

Under its policy, the Labor Party plans to double the number of undergraduate scholarships across the nation to 88,000, particularly in high priority skill shortage areas. They will additionally fund 450,000 vocational training places. The Coalition has pledged to fund 200,000 vocational training places.
Labor leader Kevin Rudd has also recognised the need to retain experienced students, offering 1,000 research fellowships worth $140 million to mid-career academics.
Gerard Sutton, president of Universities Australia, expressed disappointment at the offerings, saying it didn’t go far enough. "Not a single cent from either party went towards the teaching or research costs in universities,” he said. “That is a significant disappointment to Universities Australia."
However, chairwoman of the Australian Technology Network Margaret Gardner noted that the pledge would go some way to easing skill shortages.

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