More opportunities for regional students

On 19 June 2020, the Minister for Education, the Hon Dan Tehan MP announced a package of measures worth over $400 million over the next four years to increase opportunities for regional and remote students to attend university, and to lift investment in regional university campuses. This brings the Government’s total investment since 2016 to more than $1 billion in measures to improve higher-level tertiary education outcomes for regional and remote Australia.

The new measures arise from the National Regional, Rural and Remote Tertiary Education Strategy and are intended to bridge the gap in attainment rates between regional and remote students and metropolitan students, drive productivity for the regions and bolster the research capacity of regional universities to foster potential and opportunity in regional communities.

The measures will ensure regional and remote students have increased financial support for their higher education study and improved travel support, subject to the passage of legislation. Regional communities will benefit from strengthened and newly established Regional University Centres, enhanced regional research opportunities and regional growth through additional funding to regional university campuses. 

In addition, Indigenous students from rural and regional Australia who are admitted to their university of choice will have a guaranteed bachelor-level Commonwealth supported place at university.

This package also includes reform of equity funding to ensure regional and remote students receive greater support in accessing and succeeding in higher education, as well as the creation of a Regional Education Commissioner role to oversee and coordinate efforts to address the barriers stopping Australians in regional and remote areas from pursuing a tertiary qualification.

Further details about this package are outlined below and are also available in our discussion paper.

Tertiary Access Payment

The Government is investing $159.1 million over four years for a Tertiary Access Payment to encourage and assist outer regional and remote students to access tertiary study immediately following school (Year 12).

School leavers in these areas who relocate to undertake full-time, high level tertiary education (Cert 4 and above) in the year immediately after they graduate Year 12 will receive a one-off $5000 payment to assist with their transition.

For more information on this measure see our frequently asked questions.

A guaranteed place for Indigenous students from regional Australia

The Government will introduce demand driven funding to support all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students so that they are guaranteed a Commonwealth supported place when they are admitted to their university of choice.

In 2021, an additional 160 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students from regional and remote areas will benefit from a guaranteed a Commonwealth supported place at a university of their choice, where they are accepted by the university into the course of study. This number will rise to over 1,700 students by 2024. 

For more information on this measure see our frequently asked questions.

Strengthen and expand the Regional University Centres program

The Government will invest $21 million over four years to establish up to eight additional Regional University Centres (RUCs) and strengthen the existing RUC program to provide the facilities needed to improve the tertiary education experience of regional students.

For more information on this measure see our frequently asked questions.

Improved Fares Allowance

The Government will improve arrangements for Fares Allowance from 2021 by reducing the waiting period from six months to three months to allow relocated tertiary students to return home during their mid-year break in their first year of study.

Given that currently approximately 70 per cent of students from regional and remote areas who undertake tertiary study relocate to do so, the modified Fares Allowance will provide important support to assist them in staying connected with their family and community at appropriate points throughout the year.

For more information on this measure see our frequently asked questions.

Reform of equity funding

From 2021, the Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program (HEPPP) will be reformed to ensure that regional and remote students will receive greater support to access and succeed in higher education.

For the first time, regional and remote students will be recognised as a key target group in the distribution of access and equity funding through the HEPPP. A new Regional Partnerships Project Pool will provide $7.1 million over four years to support activities that increase the participation of school students in regional Australia in university.

For more information on this measure see our frequently asked questions.

Enhanced research capacity of Regional Universities

The Government is establishing an annual grants program for regional universities to enable them to develop research partnerships with other education providers or local industry.

The grant will provide valuable support to regional universities who have significant barriers when attempting to increase their research capacity.

For more information on this measure see our frequently asked questions.

Regional Education Commissioner

The Government is creating the role of Regional Education Commissioner to oversee and coordinate the effort to implement the National Regional, Rural and Remote Tertiary Education Strategy (Napthine Review).

This role will help to respond to the significant barriers that exist for regional and remote people to pursue a tertiary qualification and will coordinate across education sectors, as well as state and territory governments.

For more information on this measure see our frequently asked questions.

Commonwealth Grant Scheme growth for regional campuses

The Government will invest $145 million over four years for regional campuses as part of the measure to provide increased Commonwealth Grant Scheme (CGS) funding to universities based on their campus locations, for each funding agreement period beginning in 2021. The funding will be a percentage increase on non-medical bachelor (non-designated) funding. This measure will increase funding to regional university campuses by 3.5 per cent a year, improving regional growth by increasing participation rates of students at regional campuses.

For more information on this measure see the CGS frequently asked questions.

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