‘The inconvenient truth stopping me from going to university’

Apr 16, 2019
Sue was surprised to learn she'd have to postpone her plans of returning to university. (Photograph posed by model) Source: Getty Images

While making enquiries on behalf of my youngest son (who had intimated a couple of years ago that he would like to do a degree), I contacted the University of New England, which just happened to be the same institution where I commenced a degree in Economics in 1993 (I was unable to continue because I was made redundant). During the conversation, I asked if I could get a copy of my results. Anyway, $20 later, I received my results and was reminded that I’d done pretty well – one distinction, three credits, three passes and one fail (that was ‘Maths for Economics’ and I knew I would fail it).

I made further enquiries and was recently offered enrolment in a Bachelor of Arts undergraduate degree. Then came the ‘rub’. Even though I emigrated to this country – at the invitation of the government of the day – with my family from the United Kingdom in 1965, I was not an Australian citizen, only a ‘Permanent Resident’! How could that be? I’ve worked in this country that has been my home since I was 16 years old. I’ve paid taxes; raised my New Zealand-born children here; never had more than a couple of speeding fines; the government pays me a disability support pension, but I cannot qualify for a Commonwealth support pension unless I become an Australian citizen (which incidentally, could take two years to finalise).

I find this predicament somewhat incongruous – although I don’t begrudge them one iota.

I just want to learn. I want to keep the ‘grey matter’ functioning (goodness knows, the body isn’t doing so great). Starting this undergraduate course will provide a sense of commitment, focus and I’ll learn something new.

I’ve completed the 28-page application to become an Australian citizen; I’ve provided every document I can to prove ‘I am who I am’;  it will cost me $120 (plus ‘incidentals’) in order to give me a piece of paper that ‘says’ I am committed to Australia! By the time I manage to do all of this, I could be dead! Bloody hell, I’ve had cancer three times, have COPD, three bulging discs in my lower back and a compressed nerve; I’ll be 65 years old in October. What the hell do I have to do?!

The sad part is that I will have to defer the offer to enrol until 2020. I don’t want to give up but there is so much a person can do when dealing with government bureaucracy.

Have you considered study as a mature age student? Have you learned something about yourself you didn’t previously know?

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