Access and Participation

Access and Participation programs are available to help Australians who want to attend university, regardless of circumstances, background or location.

Regional and remote students

On 19 June 2020, a series of measures to provide more opportunities for regional Australia were announced as part of the Job-ready Graduates Package. Worth more than $400 million over 5 years, these regional measures include:

  • Increased financial support for higher education study
  • Improved travel support.

These measures respond to the National Regional, Rural and Remote Tertiary Education Strategy - final report.

This strategy aims to improve:

  • Opportunities for regional and remote students to attend university
  • The gap in attainment rates between regional and remote students and metropolitan students
  • Productivity for the regions
  • Research capacity of regional universities
  • Potential and opportunity in regional communities
  • Investment in regional university campuses.

Tertiary Access Payment

From 2021, more than 8,100 students will benefit from the Tertiary Access Payment (TAP). The TAP means their choices are not restricted by their location.

This helps school-leavers who:

  • Live in outer regional and remote Australia
  • Need to relocate for tertiary education.

The TAP is:

  • A $5,000 one-off payment
  • Not indexed or means-tested
  • Available to school-leavers from outer regional or remote areas who:
    • Relocate more than 90 minutes from their home
    • Undertake full-time, higher-level tertiary education (Certificate IV and above).

Regional Education Commissioner

By 2030, the Regional Education Commissioner aims to halve the difference in tertiary education outcomes between regional and metropolitan students.

The Commissioner will:

Read more about the Regional Education Commissioner.

Regional University Centres program

Regional University Centres are supported by a $74.2 million investment over 2018-19 to 2023-24. There are currently 24 Centres operating around Australia providing facilities and support such as:

  • Study spaces
  • Video conferencing
  • Computing facilities and internet access
  • Academic support and pastoral care for students studying via distance at partner universities.

In June 2020, a further $21 million was announced to strengthen and expand the Regional University Centres program. This includes funding to:

  • Establish up to 9 new Centres in late 2020 and early 2021
  • Support existing Centres.

Rural and Regional Enterprise Scholarships program

The Rural and Regional Enterprise Scholarships (RRES) is investing $62.6 million and has offered more than 3,000 scholarships since 2017. The program has helped regional and remote students by:

  • Improving educational opportunities
  • Increasing access and attainment outcomes
  • Supporting undergraduate, postgraduate and higher‑level vocational education and training.

Scholarships are:

  • Available to students studying:
    • From 6 months full-time up to 8 years part-time
    • On campus or through online and distance education.
  • Valued at up to $18,000 each (for a full-time, four-year qualification)
  • Funded on a pro rata basis for shorter part-time qualifications
  • Available to support an internship, where relevant, with an additional $500.

Round 5 of the RRES program opened on 1 March 2021. There are 700 scholarships available for students commencing study at any time during the 2021 academic calendar year.

As part of the Creative Economy Job Maker program, $1 million was announced to fund 50 Creative Arts Scholarships for regional and remote students commencing an eligible creative arts Bachelor degree from 2021.

Information and applications for the scholarships are through the Queensland Tertiary Admissions Centre (QTAC).

Indigenous students from remote and regional areas

The Australian Government will provide $17.1 million over 4 years to help Indigenous students from regional and remote areas access university places.

An additional 160 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students from regional and remote areas will benefit from a guaranteed Commonwealth supported place in 2021:

  • at a university of their choice
  • where they are accepted by the university.

This number will rise to over 1,700 students by 2024.

Indigenous, Regional and Low-SES Attainment Fund (IRLSAF)

The Indigenous, Regional and Low SES Attainment Fund (IRLSAF) funds universities to support Indigenous students, students from low SES, regional and remote backgrounds.

The IRLSAF realigns existing funding by combining:

  • the Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program (HEPPP)
  • the National Priorities Pool Program
  • Regional Loading
  • Enabling Loading
  • the new Regional Partnerships Project Pool.

The IRLSAF was introduced on 1 January 2021. Funding for the composite programs is being distributed in accordance with current program guidelines until 2023.

The Government will work with the higher education sector to design a more refined funding model to support equity outcomes for implementation from 2024. The new IRLSAF model will allow universities to use their funding more flexibly to best serve the needs of their local communities.

The Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program (HEPPP)

The Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program (HEPPP) provides funding to universities listed in Table A of the Higher Education Support Act 2003 to implement strategies that improve access to undergraduate courses for people from regional and remote Australia, low SES backgrounds and Indigenous persons. The HEPPP also helps to improve the retention and completion rates of those students.

The Regional Partnerships Project Pool

A new Regional Partnerships Project Pool has been established to provide $7.1 million over four years to universities, consortia of universities and/or Regional Universities Centres through a competitive grants process. This will:

  • support regional outreach projects
  • assist providers to link with other universities, schools, VET providers and community organisations to develop and implement outreach initiatives.

Read more about More opportunities for Regional Australia.

The National Priorities Pool Program (NPPP) 

Under the Indigenous, Regional and Low SES Attainment Fund (IRLSAF) the National Priorities Pool Program (NPPP) is a standalone program. The objectives of the National Priorities Pool Program are to provide grants to Table A higher education providers to conduct research projects and trial initiatives designed to:

  • inform future equity policy development and equity practice nationally and at an institutional level
  • help increase the number of persons from a low socio-economic status (SES) background, persons from regional areas and remote areas, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons who aspire to, access, participate in, remain in, and succeed in higher education
  • help increase the number of persons from a low SES background, persons from regional areas and remote areas, and Indigenous persons who obtain higher education awards.

Higher Education Disability Support Program

The Disability Support Program (DSP) provides funding to eligible higher education providers, to assist with supporting students with disability to access, participate and succeed in higher education.

Providers may use funding for staff training, to better support students with disability, and to modify course content, teaching materials and delivery methods to better meet the needs of students with disability.

The DSP provides funding for the Australian Disability Clearinghouse on Education and Training (ADCET) website. The site provides information, advice and resources to disability practitioners, teachers and students with disability, on inclusive practices within the post-secondary education sector.

National Disability Coordination Officer Program

The National Disability Coordination Officer (NDCO) Program works strategically to assist people with disability to access and participate in tertiary education and subsequent employment.

NDCOs work with stakeholders at a local level to reduce systemic barriers, facilitate smooth transitions, build links and coordinate services for people with disability between the education, training and employment sectors.

National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education (NCSEHE)

The National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education (NCSEHE) helps improve higher education outcomes for marginalised and disadvantaged people such as:

  • Access
  • Participation
  • Retention
  • Success
  • Completion rates.

It does this by:

  • Strengthening student equity in higher education research quality, capability and capacity
  • Building a robust evidence base
  • Informing institutional best practice
  • Enhancing delivery of equity measures
  • Informing evidence-based public policy design and implementation.