MEDIA STATEMENT

Helen Haines has welcomed reforms to the tertiary education sector announced today as a good step forward.

But the Independent Federal Member for Indi has called on the federal government to go the extra kilometre to guarantee the future of local regional campuses and unlock the potential of regional education on the Border.

The changes announced today include:

  • $5000 to students from outer regional and remote areas to help pay the relocation costs when they move to study a Certificate IV qualification or higher
  • Five per cent growth in additional Commonwealth Grant Scheme funding to regional and remote university campuses
  • $500 million to universities for programs that support Indigenous, regional and low SES students
  • $48.8 million to fund research collaboration between regional universities, industry and other higher education partners
  • $21 million to establish additional Regional University Centres throughout Australia
  • Appointment of a Regional Education Commissioner to oversee the implementation of the Regional Education Strategy

Dr Haines said the changes detailed by Education Minister Dan Tehan implemented some of the recommendations in the National Regional, Rural and Remote Education Strategy, also known as the Napthine Review – the Government’s blueprint for strengthening tertiary education.

“I have been calling on the government to implement these recommendations since I came to Parliament,” Dr Haines said.

“This week in Question Time I asked the Education Minister to consider funding more places for domestic students in areas with skills shortages, such as nursing and allied health, at regional campuses such as La Trobe and Charles Sturt universities. That’s exactly what these reforms should do.

“I will continue to work closely with the Minister to ensure that our local universities, which offer excellent courses in the health sciences and technology, have a strong future.

“This will ensure our rural students have greater access to affordable high quality education that secures our rural workforce.

“Our local universities have been under considerable stress during the pandemic with no support through JobKeeper. Border universities and TAFEs are crucial to our future as a vibrant region, and so it’s vital that this announcement operates as pull factor for students to the region & secures jobs.

“I am also very pleased to see support to ATSI students and low SES students from regional, rural and remote areas, where low levels of the educational attainment have been a serious problem for far too long.

“Our regional universities should be about ambition, transformation, opportunity and optimism.”

Dr Haines said she would assess any legislation that comes before Parliament to ensure it secured a fair deal for regional Australia.

“This week in Parliament, I’m pleased that the government adopted an amendment I developed to ensure the new National Skills Commissioner has a regional focus,” she said.

“I will take that same approach to this new legislation – providing practical proposals to improve Government legislation, and securing better outcomes for regional Australia.”

Dr Haines said the government should implement all of the recommendations of the Napthine Review.

[June 19, 2020]

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