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

School leavers commencing a Certificate IV or above will benefit from the Tertiary Access Payment (TAP). The TAP means student choices are not restricted by their location.

This helps school-leavers who:

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

The TAP is:

  • A payment of up to $5,000 for eligible students from outer regional and remote areas and $3,000 for eligible students from inner regional areas
  • Non-indexed and means-tested
  • Available to school-leavers from inner regional, outer regional or remote areas who:
    • Relocate to undertake study more than 90 minutes by public transport from their home
    • Undertake full-time (at least 75 per cent of a full-time course load), 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 25 Centres operating in all states and the Northern Territory, with an additional centre in Wangaratta to open in 2022. Centres provide 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. Read more about the Regional University Centres and see if there is one near you.  

Rural and Regional Enterprise Scholarships program

The Rural and Regional Enterprise Scholarships (RRES) program is investing $62.6 million and has offered more than 4,000 scholarships to regional and remote students since 2017. The program has helped eligible students by:

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

Scholarships are:

  • Available to regional and remote students studying:
    • From 6 months full-time up to 8 years part-time
    • On campus or through online and distance education
    • From Certificate IV to PhD level.
  • 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 6 of the RRES program is now open for students commencing study at any time during the 2022 academic calendar year.

Information and applications for RRES 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.

Regional Partnerships Project Pool Program

Established under the Indigenous, Regional and Low SES Attainment Fund, the Regional Partnerships Project Pool Program will provide $7.1 million over three years (2021-22 to 2023-24) to support multi-year collaborative outreach projects that enable the aspirations of students in regional and remote Australia where barriers to pursuing higher education exist.

Read more about Regional Partnerships Project Pool Program.

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.