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Education reform spells windfall for Notre Dame

Perth's Catholic Notre Dame University is expecting to gain from the Federal Government's offer of undergraduate loans, which will allow more students to enter private institutions such as Notre Dame and Queensland's Bond University.

The loans, known as FEE-HELP, are part of the Federal Government's controversial higher education reform package, which was made law last week after successful passage through the Senate.

Notre Dame vice-chancellor Peter Tannock described the reforms as a boon for the private Catholic university, suggesting the legislation passed last week would help Notre Dame increase its student base from 3000 to 5000 over five years.

"The new legislation contains four key areas for us - extra HECS places, a loans scheme, a scholarship scheme and extra funding for our Broome Campus," he said.

"This all adds up to Notre Dame becoming a much more affordable option for more university students, particularly those from working class families.

"The barrier of fees will be removed so that students coming to Notre Dame will not have to borrow from their parents or banks, but rather be able to go to the Federal Government for a low interest loan which they will pay back over time when they are in full employment."

The university, which has about 75% fee-paying students, would hopefully get more HECS places in priority areas such as teaching, nursing and indigenous education, Professor Tannock said. Notre Dame also expects more HECS places for its medical school, which will open in 2005.

FEE-HELP would also boost student numbers, Professor Tannock said. "It will make life a lot better for our undergraduates who really struggle to pay fees."

Notre Dame has yet to decide whether to increase HECS fees, but hinted indigenous students at the university would be quarantined from any rises.

Privately pleased, with expectations of growth (The Australian 10/12/03)
Notre Dame welcomes reform package (Notre Dame University 5/12/03)

Notre Dame University
Department of Education, Science and Training | A new day for Australia's universities (Media Release 4/12/03)

10 Dec 2003