$20 million win for regional students


Regional students will enjoy easier access to higher education opportunities under a new $20 million fund announced today in Ballarat by Acting Premier and Minister for Regional and Rural Development Peter Ryan and Minister for Higher Education and Skills Peter Hall.

Mr Hall said the $20 million Regional Partnerships Facilitation Fund would increase alliances between universities and Vocational Education and Training (VET) providers in regional Victoria.

“This initiative aims to increase alliances between TAFE institutes and universities to deliver a greater range of higher education programs in regional centres, giving more students the option to study in their hometown,” Mr Hall said.

“In particular, this program aims to increase the number of TAFE campuses providing degree-level courses to build a better future for regional students and help boost higher education participation rates across the state.

“It will also encourage greater use of existing infrastructure and resources between institutions in regional Victoria.”

Mr Hall said the establishment of the fund was a key recommendation of a 2009 report advising on the development of the Victorian Tertiary Education Plan.

“The report found the lack of access to higher education was exacerbating the trend of young regional Victorians leaving their communities to access education,” Mr Hall said.

Mr Ryan said there was a significant difference in the number of regional students enrolling in university following year 12 compared with metropolitan students.

“30.5 per cent of regional students completing year 12 enrol in university the following year, compared with 50.7 per cent of metropolitan students,” Mr Ryan said.

“The Coalition Government is determined to break down the barriers to higher education that regional students experience and this fund is an important step in facilitating that.”

Mr Hall said funding for the Regional Partnerships Facilitation Fund would be provided through the Coalition Government’s $1 billion Regional Growth Fund.