SHOALHAVEN based full-time tertiary students, who are employed or receiving income, undertaking evening classes and/or undertaking postgraduate research at universities, will now be eligible for transport concessions.
Under longstanding rules, full-time tertiary students had to be attending day classes and could not be employed to be eligible for transport concessions.
But under a state government announcement a number of groups of full-time university, TAFE and private college students will become eligible for transport concessions.
It includes students who are employed or otherwise receiving an income; those enrolled in evening classes; and those undertaking postgraduate research at universities.
South Coast MP Shelley Hancock said many full-time students who travel from the Shoalhaven to attend classes at Wollongong University or Illawarra TAFE campuses were ineligible to receive transport concessions under the former system.
“This is a fantastic announcement that will assist local students who travel long distances, often at a high cost, to attend university, TAFE or a private college,” she said.
“Most students need to work casually or part-time while they study to support themselves, and under the old eligibility criteria, those who worked were not actually eligible for a transport concession.
“These days, tertiary institutions are offering classes at night so students can balance their study commitments with a casual or part time job – it is ridiculous that in 2013 we would provide incentives for people not to have a job.”
The requirement to be attending day classes meant students doing higher degrees by research at universities were also ineligible for concession fares, even though they had to travel to campus each day and were studying full-time hours.
“These changes will take some of the financial pressures off local students who are working hard to educate and support themselves and contributing to the South Coast economy,” Mrs Hancock said.
“The changes will also make it easier for institutions to understand and administer concessions, cutting unnecessary administrative red tape – there is too much confusion with the rules and enforcement has been difficult.”
Students will still need to meet other criteria to be eligible for a concession, such as being internally enrolled at university full-time or taking part in 20 hours or more of face-to-face classes per week at a TAFE or private college.
However, students with a disability who because of their disability have to study part-time or on an external basis, will be eligible for a transport concession.