More support for regional students

Media Release
  • Minister for Education

Australians living in regional and remote communities will have greater access to higher education because of the Morrison Government’s additional $134.8 million investment announced today.

The Morrison Government’s total additional new funding for regional higher education is now $400 million over five years.

Minister for Education Dan Tehan said the Morrison Government was making a real and lasting difference in the lives of students, their families and communities throughout regional, rural and remote Australia.

“Every Australian, no matter where they live, should have access to Australia’s world-leading higher education system,” Mr Tehan said.

“Our Government’s investment in regional and remote education will give students greater choice and access to opportunities through more Commonwealth-supported places at regional campuses, more scholarships for rural and regional students and more Regional Study Hubs.”

The Government today announced:

  • $34.1 million for an additional 1,955 scholarships for regional and remote students over four years, more than doubling the 1,200 scholarships currently available.
  • $92.5 million to support more students at five regionally focused universities over four years. This includes:
    • $40.7 million for Federation University Australia’s Berwick campus (VIC);
    • $30.2 million for the Caboolture and Fraser Coast campuses of the University of the Sunshine Coast (QLD);
    • $3.3 million for the Central Coast Medical School and Research Institute of the University of Newcastle (NSW);
    • $9.1 million for Central Queensland University (QLD); and
    • $9.1 million for James Cook University (QLD).
  • $7.5 million to support 16 Regional Study Hubs in 22 locations over four years. This funding is in addition to the $16.7 million the Government has already committed and will see universities working collaboratively to deliver educational services in regional and rural communities.
  • A number of Regional Study Hub applicants were not successful through this round. I will have my department provide feedback and if necessary work with the unsuccessful hubs to explore options with them that meet local community need for tertiary education throughother programs and partnerships. This will acknowledge the initiative of these communities in seeking to support local students and help them make a stronger case for investments in their region in any future opportunities.
  • ​The development of a National Regional, Rural and Remote Higher Education Strategy to drive increased participation in post-secondary education as part of our response to the recommendations of Emeritus Professor John Halsey’s Independent Review into Regional, Rural and Remote Education.

An Expert Regional Education Advisory Group will also be established to drive the strategy and advise Government on the ongoing education and training needs of regional communities.

The Advisory Group, to be chaired by The Hon Dr Denis Napthine MP, will also prepare a National Regional, Rural and Remote Education Report to Government on priority recommendations for action, including advice on the merits of establishing a Rural Education Commissioner to oversee implementation of the strategy.

Mr Napthine said: “As a former regional MP, I have seen firsthand the extra challenges that children from the bush face in getting a higher education.

“The Expert Regional Education Advisory Group will help ensure country kids get the same opportunities as students in our cities.

“Thriving regional and rural communities are key to Australia’s success and they need a high-performing education system that supports students and universities in regional areas.

“High quality tertiary education facilities in regional and rural areas will also greatly assist in the decentralisation of our population, easing congestion and overcrowding in our major urban centres.”

Regional Universities Network (RUN) Chair Professor Greg Hill said: “A one-size-fits-all policy for higher education does not meet the needs of regional Australia or the nation. Place-based initiatives, such as those announced, are needed to make a difference.

“As anchor institutions for their regions, regional universities have a pivotal role to play in addressing some of the big issues facing Australia. Encouraging young people to stay, study and work in the regions helps address national cohesion and assists in alleviating congestion in major cities. Seventy per cent of the graduates from RUN universities work in regional Australia.

“RUN congratulates the Government on this initiative that demonstrates that it is listening to the voice of regional Australia in the national interest.

“Higher education changes lives, not only for the people directly involved, but for their families and communities.”

Mr Tehan said the Government was determined to see the redistribution of medical places support an expansion of medical training focused on meeting the needs of regional Australia. Those universities that are currently serving the needs of regional communities will not have any medical places taken from them in the redistribution, however they will be able to apply for more places to grow their capacity.

University of Newcastle Acting Vice-Chancellor Professor Kevin Hall said: “This is a fantastic outcome for the Central Coast. These places will help us train more allied health professionals that will be critical for delivering healthcare in the region. It’s also a great outcome for the University. It helps catalyse our goal in setting up a best practise, work integrated, world class medical school working in close partnership with the Central Coast Local Health District.

“We’re very grateful for the Commonwealth’s and Minister Tehan’s support in helping the University of Newcastle drive the education of medical professionals for the future well-being of the local and national community.”

The Department of Education and Training will be writing to universities in the coming days to invite applications for the additional sub-bachelor and enabling places which will support students in regional areas. These measures have been funded by capping the growth funding for the Research Support Program.

Today’s announcement builds on our Government’s existing commitments to improve educational outcomes for regional and remote students.

In 2016, the Coalition committed $152 million over four years to a Regional Student Access to Education Package, including:

  • $24 million for 1,200 new Rural and Regional Enterprise scholarships for undergraduate, postgraduate and vocational education students to undertake STEM studies;
  •  $83 million to improve access to Youth Allowance and ABSTUDY living allowance for regional and remote students;
  • $45 million for isolated children’s education.

In the 2017-18 Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook, the Government:

  • announced the introduction of a new allocation mechanism for enabling, sub-bachelor and postgraduate Commonwealth supported places to better match places to student needs. This will now commence from 1 January 2020 to allow for consultation.

The Government committed $96.1 million over four years in response to the 11 recommendations of Professor Halsey’s Independent Review into Regional, Rural and Remote Education, including:

  • $28.2 million to fund around 500 additional commencing sub-bachelor and enabling Commonwealth supported places from 2019, growing to 688 by 2020;
  • $14.0 million to fully support an additional 185 commencing Commonwealth supported places in Regional Study Hubs from 2019, rising to around 500 in 2022;
  • $53.9 million to ease financial pressures on families in regional communities, by increasing the parental income cut-off for the ‘workforce participation’ independence criterion for regional students from $150,000 to $160,000, and by a further $10,000 for each additional child in the family.

The Government provided more than $1.6 billion in base funding in 2017 for Commonwealth supported students at regionally headquartered universities, with an additional $70 million regional loading each year to help universities maintain regional campuses.

More details can be found at education.gov.au/access-and-participation 

For more information

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