Rural and regional students seeking a university education received additional support today with the establishment of a taskforce and the provision of extra funding announced by the Minister for Tertiary Education, Senator Chris Evans.Senator Evans said the Government is setting up a $20 million
Rural Tertiary Hardship Fund from 1 January 2011 to help reduce the barriers faced by young rural and regional students attending university.
“The Rural and Regional Taskforce would provide advice and assistance to Government to enable young rural and regional students to attend university, Senator Evans said.
The Taskforce will be Chaired by Professor Tony Vinson AM, Emeritus Professor (University of NSW), Honorary Professor (University of Sydney), with other members to include Ms Carla Drakeford, President of the National Union of Students, Professor Sandra Harding, Vice Chancellor and President of James Cook University, Dr Chris Jones, Chief Executive Officer of Anglicare Tasmania and Ms Elizabeth McGregor, Institute Director of North Coast TAFE.
“The role of the Taskforce is to advise the Government on eligibility criteria for assistance under the Fund.
“The Fund is one of the ways in which the Government is helping more rural and regional students, aged 25 years and younger, to undertake higher education.”
The Minister for Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government Simon Crean welcomed the announcement of the taskforce.
“Education is the greater enabler and we want to ensure that everyone gets the opportunity to access a great education.”
“This is an important step forward for rural Australia and the high-calibre Taskforce will help ensure the $20 million is well targeted.”
The Fund will operate from 1 January 2011 to 30 June 2013. It is additional to the benefits available to rural and regional students under the Youth Allowance reform package, delivered by the Government earlier this year. Those reforms included relaxation of the parental income test, scholarships and a reduction in the age of independence.
The Taskforce will make recommendations to Government on the eligibility criteria by 30 November 2010.
Media Contacts:Minister Evans: Karen Brown 0413 080 956Rhys Davies 0411 138 572Minister Crean: Clinton Porteous 0403 369 588