Thirty-seven per cent of regional students told the survey for State Government initiative On Track they were waiting to qualify for an independent Youth Allowance before studying, compared with 15 per cent of city students. The easiest way to qualify is by earning about $18,000 over 18 months before starting.
For eighteen months now I have been curious about why university students seem to be starting at a later age, with this kind of playing the Youth Allowance system being high on the list of theories.
Unfortunately, there was no data released for 2005 on the ages of students ‘new to higher education’, so I had to use the commencing student data (which isn’t as good, because it includes people transferring from other courses). While the trend of an absolute enrolment decline in ‘young’ commencing students, which I define as those aged 16 to 18, stopped and their numbers started to climb again, they continued to decline as a proportion of all commencing students aged 16 to 21. If the 16 to 18 year olds had maintained their year 2000 market share of all commencing students 21 and under in 2005, there would have been about 6,600 more of them at university than in fact was the case. Read the rest of this entry »