A BORDER secondary school principal yesterday welcomed a NSW government plan to help regional and disadvantaged students get into university.
That follows an agreement reached between the government and the Universities Admissions Centre on its Education Access Scheme.
Murray High School principal Geoff Mackenzie said the scheme was especially relevant to students in rural areas who had limited access to the facilities and opportunities available in Sydney.
Member for Albury Greg Aplin said the government and the centre had agreed on a more equitable way of distributing bonus points and places for university entry.
“Students from socio-economically disadvantaged areas, Aboriginal students and those from remote rural and regional schools are under-represented in tertiary education,” Mr Aplin said.
“The NSW government is addressing this imbalance through a new measure that identifies schools whose students deserve to have automatic access to benefit from UAC’s Educational Access Scheme.
“The scheme may provide participating students with either several crucial bonus points that can make the world of difference, or access to an allocated place.”
Mr Mackenzie said a “significant number” of Murray High students had enjoyed early entry into Charles Sturt University, Wollongong University and the University of New England over the years.
“The vast majority of these students have achieved great success at university and gone onto rewarding careers in their chosen fields,” he said.
“This scheme will enhance these opportunities for students across the whole range of NSW universities and, as such, are greatly appreciated by the Murray High community.
“We are still awaiting the full details of the scheme, but welcome any effort to engage more of our students in tertiary study.”
Mr Aplin said public schools in his electorate that would benefit from the agreement included Murray High, James Fallon High School and Tumbarumba High School.
Education Minister Adrian Piccoli said the allocation of such places would be determined by the department’s family occupation and education index.
“Forty-two schools are new to the list and the total number of schools eligible will expand to about 270, including 155 in regional and remote areas,” he said.
The government has estimated that about 1300 more public school students from regional and remote areas will have access to the program.
NSW Secondary Principals Council president Lila Mularczyk said the scheme made a massive difference.
“Those bonus points can mean a student becomes the first member of their family to enter university, or, for a refugee, it’s a chance to make the most of their new opportunities,” she said.