What unis recommend for regional Australia

RUN makes the case for the regions: The regional uni lobby is calling for a selective return of demand driven funding for enabling sub-degree and undergraduate places. They should be provided in, “areas where higher education attainment and participation rates are below the national average, including in regional, rural and remote and peri-urban areas, “the Regional Universities Network advocates in its submission to the federal government’s RRR education strategy framing paper. This would “help regions ‘grow their own’ workforces.”

RUN also suggests “reduced” HELP loans and other course fees for people, “choosing regional study options, and regional scholarships where the graduate is ‘bonded’ to work in the regions.”   And it proposes incentives for international students to study on RRR campuses, including, visa processing priority, “advantageous post-study work rights” and increasing permanent residency points.

And RUN calls for the creation of a national regional education commissioner with a five-year term, putting the post outside “election/ministerial cycles.”

IRU calls for flexible funding for unis with regional campuses: However, the Innovative Research Universities submission rejects the idea of a commissioner, saying the need for the position “is not clear” and it also argues against government intervening to send international students to regions. “There is no place for directing students to particular destinations, which would only have the negative impact of deterring students from coming to Australia at all. Amendments to the visa system to create incentives for students to study in particular locations could be considered but need to work with the broader immigration framework.”

The IRU also calls on government to “increase the funding cap for all additional enrolments at RRR campuses.” However, the submission makes clear that this call for a selective increase is in the context of issues set-out in the government’s policy-framing paper.  The lobby argues for funding growth for universities with regional and metropolitan campuses “equal to the growth in provision at RRR campuses.” This would let, “universities respond to demand where it exists and avoids the government picking which campuses should grow and the risk that not all new places will be taken up.”


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