Feds low-cost plan for regional study

The Department of Education has ever-so quietly announced the regional study hubs programme. According to the feds, “the hubs will support regional students to study courses locally delivered by distance from any Australian university, by providing greater access to study support and infrastructure. “

Those whose hobby is the study of ideas to shut backbenchers up will remember the hubs emerged as a response to a Senate committee report in late 2016 that said the government should come up with ways to increase rural and regional participation in higher education. By May last year it had moved from proposal to policy, being included in the government’s twenty-year plan for the bush.

It’s not entirely clear from yesterday’s statement how they will work. One threshold requirement is that a hub must have a “formal relationship with one or more higher education institutions” but it does not have to be part of one. However, funding is only available for universities. While the government will pay set-up costs and contribute to maintenance the hubs will have to help themselves. And they will not be allowed to slug students for anything on top of course costs.

Distance education support centres are not new, CQU has them all over the country, including four in regional WA.  But $15m over four years may not be enough for the hubs to attract much interest. It certainly will not stop the Regional Universities Network demanding more money to develop campuses.


to get daily updates on what's happening in the world of Australian Higher Education