STUDENTS across Tamworth and other regional hubs are being held back because they cannot obtain Tertiary Access Payments (TAP), which is contributing the nationals skills shortage crisis, claims Charles Impey.
The payment helps cover the cost of living for those who have to travel more than 90 kilometres to relocate for tertiary education.
The Calrossy Anglican School careers adviser and Tamworth councillor said year 12 leavers' inability to access that is causing some to miss out on university.
"This happens every year where you have students that want to go off and chase their aspirations and study at institutions, where they be in Sydney, Brisbane, Newcastle or wherever," he said.
"And often they make the decision not to go and they make the decision to stay and do something else, or take a gap year or not even think about university because it's way out of their reach in terms of cost."
While many are able to pay for the courses thanks to the HECS debt scheme, it's the rent, public transport and other expenses that often cause problems.
What has really got Mr Impey fired up is the fact different rules apply to different students, even if they are at the same school in the same classroom.
"If you're a student who lives in Barraba or Gunnedah or anywhere like that you can acces that $5000 payment, but if you're a student who resides in Tamworth you can't," he said.
"But you've still got to move more than 90 kilometres to go and study somewhere."
He said he has contacted government departments regarding what criteria is preventing Tamworth students from gaining they payments, but said the answer was "unknown" aside from the city having a larger population.
With living costs typically ranging between $15,000 to $35,000 per year to rent in larger cities, he said TAPs really need to be made accessible to everyone in regional areas that cannot attend their preferred university course without moving.
He has written to New England MP and Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce about the issue, in the hope he can speak to the ministers for education and social services to address it.
Youth Allowance is another thing he has flagged with Mr Joyce, with Mr Impey arguing the threshold of a household making $160,000 per year needs to be increased.
He said that isn't actually much for parents who are supporting several children, and small technicalities can cost young academics thousands of dollars.
"I had a parent call me up a few weeks ago, and their daughter went out and worked hard for 14 months during a gap year, she earned over $29,000 during that period which allowed her to be eligible [for the allowance]," he said.
"But it was stopped because her parents, whilst they earn less than $160,000, her father through his work was given a $10,000 bonus last year.
"So what they have forgone is the opportunity for youth allowance which is around about $26,000 a year, so it's cost them more money to miss out on the youth allowance that what the bonus was able to give them."
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