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$355 Welfare Bonus for Graduates

By Yuko Narushima
Sydney Morning Herald -
Published: January 25, 2008

POST-GRADUATE students will be eligible for welfare benefits for the first time this year after the federal Minister for Education, Julia Gillard, approved 310 masters degrees for which students can claim $355 a fortnight.

The change was announced in the federal budget last year as masters qualifications were recognised as increasingly necessary to gaining a job in a competitive market.

From this month a full-time masters student who is single, over the age of 18 and living away from home can claim as much as $355.40 a fortnight in Youth Allowance or Austudy.

On top of that, the same student may also qualify for rent assistance - previously not available for students aged 25 years and over - worth as much as $105.40 a fortnight. The chief executive officer of Universities Australia, Glenn Withers, said the extension was "a good start to improving the stressful financial situation many of our university students find themselves in".

University students were financially worse off than they were in 2000, he said. The approved courses will lead to jobs in areas such as health, science, teaching and accounting.

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