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RAI commends Federal Government’s commitment to address regional study barriers 

19 July 2023

The Regional Australia Institute (RAI) has praised the Federal Government’s focus on the obstacles for regional and remote Australians in undertaking tertiary study, and the commitment of $66.9 million to establish 20 further university study hubs across regional Australia.  

“The government’s Universities Accord interim report, released today by Education Minister Jason Clare, is due acknowledgement of the barriers regional and remote Australians face in undertaking tertiary study,” RAI CEO Liz Ritchie said. 

“As Minister Clare and the report have identified, there is a ‘postcode brick wall’ for many young regional Australians contemplating university: the tyranny of distance; the cost of living away from home, and the toll of the disconnection from family and friends.”  

Ms Ritchie said boosting the post-school qualification rate in regional Australia was one of the 20 targets set out in the RAI’s Regionalisation Ambition 2032 – a 10 year plan to ‘rebalance the nation’.  

In 2021, just 57% of regional Australians aged 15-74 had a post school qualification. The RAI has a target to see this rise to 65% by 2032 - on par with that in capital cities. 

"The RAI is a strong supporter of the already established Country University Centre model, which brings universities closer to their regional students.  While remote study is an option with most universities, regional university centres can provide that all important peer and teaching support, and networking opportunities,” Ms Ritchie said. 

“I grew up in Deniliquin in southern New South Wales and when I finished school, I didn’t have the option to undertake study in my field of choice in my home town. 

“If we can give more country kids a choice about how they undertake tertiary education, we will empower our regional communities to retain the generations of the future.” 

Ms Ritchie said the RAI welcomed the report’s strong focus on boosting Indigenous tertiary participation by guaranteeing funding for each First Nations student who gained university entry. 

“We know for regional and remote First Nations young people, the barriers to study can seem insurmountable. Guaranteed funding will go a long way to minimising the financial hurdle and to addressing the fact that only 7% of Indigenous young Australians in their 20s and 30s have a degree,” Ms Ritchie said.  

Estimates by the RAI show if regional Australians had the same share of bachelor level qualifications as metropolitan residents, there would be 461,000 more graduates living and working in regional Australia, collectively earning about $26 billion each year. 

“In June, there were more than 87,000 jobs advertised online in regional Australia, many of them requiring a bachelor’s degree.  The more regional people we can support to undertake tertiary study, the stronger our regions will be,” Ms Ritchie said. 

 For media enquiries contact:

Melinda Hayter 
Ph: 0498 373 300
E: [email protected]