Setting priorities: Minister Tehan speaks to the regions and Labor’s Pratt addresses the nation

Education Minister Dan Tehan pitches to the regions in a major statement for the higher education community.  Writing for  Universities Australia this morning, Minister Tehan announces the HE system has “a role to play” in addressing the 24 per cent gap between bachelor degree levels in urban and regional Australia.

“The Australian Government is committed to delivering an education system funded to ensure more regional students enjoy the benefits of higher education,” he writes.

The minister then details government commitments to higher education in the regions, concluding; “The Australian Government is making a lasting and real difference to the opportunities provided to regional, rural and remote students, enabling them to make their unique contribution to the future of our country.”

In contrast, Opposition assistant higher education shadow Louise Pratt,  took up the UA opportunity to reiterate Labor’s commitment to restoring the demand driven system, promising to fund it with $10bn over a decade. She also pointed to the $174 million for equity and pathway programmes and the proposed $300 million university future fund.

“As I get out across university campuses across the nation in the lead up to the next election I know what I am campaigning for. I will be arguing for the role of universities as our local, national and international leaders and innovators of both today and tomorrow and the strong independent institutional drivers of the national and public interest. I will be standing up for the sustainability of funding for our nation’s universities and I will be fighting to unlock opportunities for smart, hard-working would be students,” Senator Pratt writes.

While universities in general will welcome Labor repeating commitments the minister’s message will go down well at the Regional Universities Network conference which starts tomorrow at Southern Cross U’s Gold Coast campus. SCU VC Adam Shoemaker is expected to call for a federal regional education commissioner.


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