How the feds can fund regional study hubs

In the great tradition of connecting pork producers with barrel makers the federal government has announced a $700m  regional growth fund. Entrepreneurs focused exclusively on assisting regional communities will see many opportunities in the scheme. However at first glance there are none in education – schools, for example, are barred. But that is only at first glance.

The fund is for “common-use infrastructure or private use infrastructure that will deliver significant and sustainable benefits to the region by creating jobs and flow-on benefits to the economy.” One criteria for grants is “increasing connectivity including access to education and government services.”

What like the new “regional study hubs” programme, which will help people “study courses locally delivered by distance from any Australian university, by providing greater access to study support and infrastructure,” (CMM February 21)? In addition to what the Department of Education and Training provides, successful hub proposals will have to fund some of their own spending. What better source than the Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities? Local governments with good links to universities form an orderly queue.


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