Original article published in the Sydney Morning Herald, written by Heath Gilmore and Matthew Knott 

The federal government’s Commonwealth Scholarship scheme will benefit elite universities at the expense of institutions that attract students from poor, disadvantaged and regional backgrounds, a leading vice-chancellor says.

Caroline McMillen of the University of Newcastle said the higher education reforms threatened the inter-generational mobility of Australians through their access to tertiary education.

”I am not sanguine about the G8 universities’ ability to use equity scholarships to make a difference,” she said. ”These institutions do not have a good track record in this area with an average of 8 per cent of their students [from disadvantaged and lower socio-economic backgrounds].

”Poorer students doing poorer degrees is not an exceptional situation for Australia.”

The government announced in last month’s budget that it would allow universities to structure the fees they charge for different courses. Higher education institutions will be required to commit $1 in every $5 of additional revenue from the fees to a new Commonwealth Scholarship scheme to support student access, participation and success.

Read the full Sydney Morning Herald article.