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More funds for uni IT places

THE first step in the Federal Government’s ambitious package to address the IT skills shortage was announced last week, with Australian universities set to receive funding for an additional 2670 places.

As part of the Government’s Backing Australia’s Ability innovation package, unveiled by Federal Education Minister David Kemp earlier this year, WA universities next year will offer 260 places in undergraduate courses, ranging from Information Systems to Applied Chemistry.

Curtin University was the biggest winner, with 90 new places created within its Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Information Systems degrees. Edith Cowan University will offer 60 places in its Computer Science degree and UWA 50 places in its Bachelor of Computing degree. Notre Dame received funding for an additional 50 ICT places.

Under the innovation plan, Australian universities will receive $151 million over five years to offer the new information technology and communication places.

However, the Federal Opposition is less than impressed with the allocation of university places. Opposition Education spokesman Michael Lee said the 2670 extra IT places were just 3 per cent of places Dr Kemp had cut.

“If these cuts had not been made there would have been an extra 81,500 places at university next year,” Mr Lee said.

He said if it had not been for Dr Kemp’s cuts to university courses, WA would be offering 8,108 more places in 2002.

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