The Coalition Government has invested more than $1 billion in new initiatives to improve higher education opportunities for regional and remote Australia since 2016.
Minister for Education Dan Tehan said the Coalition Government was focused on ensuring more regional, rural and Indigenous students could access higher education.
“Our Government believes that every Australian should have access to a world-class education,” Mr Tehan said.
“The new measures for regional and rural Australia announced in our Job-ready Graduates package add another $400 million to our investment in regional higher education.”
The new measures include:
• $159 million for Tertiary Access Payments to help eligible students from outer regional and remote communities relocate to engage in high-level tertiary studies.
• $145 million to fuel faster growth in Commonwealth Grant Scheme (CGS) funding for regional campuses.
• $49 million to enhance the research capacity of regional universities.
• $21 million to expand and strengthen the Regional University Centres program, adding to the 25 centres funded to date.
• $17 million to support an additional 1,700 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to go to university by 2024.
• $7 million for regional partnerships projects focussed on outreach and aspiration as part of reform of equity funding to better support regional and remote students.
• $6 million to establish a Regional Education Commissioner with associated projects and support to oversee and coordinate the Government’s regional education efforts.
“Students shouldn’t miss out on going to university and developing job-ready skills because they live in a regional community rather than a capital city,” Mr Tehan said.
“Our Government is also building the capacity of universities in regional and rural areas to strengthen investment in their local economies.”
Mr Tehan said the $400 million in new regional measures announced last month added significantly to the more than $600 million in additional new funding already provided since 2016 to improve opportunities for regional and remote education, including:
• $83 million over four years to improve income support for regional students, as part of the 2016 Regional Student Access to Education election commitment.
• $93.7 million that has been committed over four years to the Destination Australia scholarship program to provide scholarships for students at Australia’s regional tertiary education providers.
• $53.2 million to establish 25 Regional University Centres across regional and remote Australia.
• $130 million for the relocation and development of the University of Tasmania’s new Launceston campus as well as $20 million to support the redevelopment of the university’s West Park Campus in Burnie.
• $30 million for the Central Queensland University School of Mining and Manufacturing.
• $5 million for the Stawell Underground Physics Laboratory.
• $92.5 million over four years for additional Commonwealth supported places for students at regional universities.
• $58.1 million to fund more than 3,000 Rural and Regional Enterprise Scholarships.
• $28.2 million to expand the availability of sub-bachelor and enabling places at universities as pathways for regional, rural and remote students.
• $53.9 million in income support to ease financial pressures on families in regional areas, by increasing the parental income cut-off for Youth Allowance’s regional workforce independence criteria.
“If we can halve the gap in attainment and participation rates in regional and remote areas by 2030 it will grow Australia’s GDP by 0.6 per cent which is $25 billion by 2050,” Mr Tehan said.
“Under our Job-ready Graduates package, we will provide a one-off $5,000 grant to every student from an outer regional, remote and very remote community who has to move more than 90 minutes away from their home to engage in full-time study (Certificate IV qualification or higher) in the year immediately following Year 12.
“The Government will also introduce demand-driven funding to support more Indigenous students from regional and remote communities to go to university – improving participation and attainment rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.
“By 2024, this will help support an additional 1,700 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to attend university.
“A Regional Education Commissioner will be appointed to drive these reforms and implement the programs as part of the Government’s Regional Education Strategy.”