The Federal Government’s Earn or Learn budget policy is having far reaching consequences. Students approaching the end of their schooling are now being faced with a decision to either enroll straight into university or risk the higher university fees, from deregulation of tertiary institutions, in 2015.

Traditionally many students have enrolled in a university course and then deferred for a year. During this time they have either worked or travelled, but either way they have got some sense of the world beyond the confines academia.

Many studies support the idea of a gap year. Students who do take a break are, on average, more successful in their studies, more mature, confident and responsible.

But many of those intending on taking 2015 off may not be able to afford the higher tertiary fees when they return.

Those deciding to go straight into tertiary study in 2015 face a different set of problems: University students do not qualify for rent assistance or youth allowance without earning a year’s wage before attending university.

So in choosing to go straight to university in 2015 students may enjoy lower fees, but only at the expense of government support. Furthermore, the research shows these students are at significantly higher risk of burnout and dropping out than their compatriots who took time off.

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