University students
University students Brett Wortman

Fears regions may suffer in demand-driven uni axed

THE Coalition Government has opened the door to abolition of Labor's demand-driven university funding system, a move which could hit regional students.

Reports in Fairfax Media on Wednesday revealed new Education Minister Christopher Pyne was considering the move as part of sweeping new reforms to the sector.

Mr Pyne is understood to be considering reintroducing caps on student numbers in a bid to improve the quality of higher education.

The move would reverse Labor's reforms, which resulted in an extra 200,000 students across the country, particularly from lower income familles and regional areas.

New reforms to the sector would also abolish targets to increase lower socio-economic background students.

Mr Pyne said he was not interested in "targets for targets' sake", saying he would start a review of the sector to see if the Labor reforms had impacted on quality.

Interim Labor leader Chris Bowen said Mr Pyne's comments showed the new government was planning "abolishing the demand-driven system of university funding".

While there have been concerns over quality, particularly among Group of Eight members, the regional university sector will be among those chiefly affected.

Should the caps be removed, and funding for student services removed, it would likely have a disproportionate effect on regional universities, which have a heavier reliance on the funding.

Mr Pyne said quality would be the new government's watchword for the higher education sector, and "we aren't bound by the previous government's policy decisions".


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