- Federal government pledges to work with higher education sector to assist regional, rural and remote Australians to access university qualifications
- Acting Vice-Chancellor Professor John Germov implores government to allow expansion of the University
Charles Sturt University (Charles Sturt) welcomes the key findings of a report aimed at improving tertiary education opportunities for regional Australians, and urges further government policies and initiatives to allow the University to expand to meet demand.
Minister for Education, The Honourable Dan Tehan, on Wednesday 28 August released the findings of a report by the Regional Education Expert Advisory Group, chaired by former Victorian Premier Dr Denis Napthine.
Among the Napthine Review’s key recommendations were improving regional students’ access to tertiary study options, financial assistance and student support systems, and growing higher education participation rates for first-in-family, low socio-economic, Indigenous and remote students.
In February 2019, Charles Sturt provided Dr Napthine’s panel with an extensive submission for its consideration, and the University’s Acting Vice-Chancellor Professor John Germov (pictured) said that the University’s submission had aligned with the review’s key findings.
“Charles Sturt wholeheartedly agrees with the key recommendations of the Napthine Review,” Professor Germov said.
“We urge the Minister and his Government to act on the Review’s recommendations to assist us in our goal of opening the doors of higher education to more students from socially disadvantaged backgrounds.”
Professor Germov said communities within Charles Sturt’s regional footprint were at a significant disadvantage to their metropolitan counterparts in terms of higher education opportunities.
Despite these obstacles, Charles Sturt graduates enjoy the highest employment rate and attract some of the highest starting salaries among their Australian contemporaries.
With an average of 80 per cent of the University’s graduates commencing their careers in regional, rural or remote areas, Professor Germov argued Charles Sturt is central to the growth and prosperity of regional Australia, and its expansion should therefore be supported by future government policy.
“The University is crucial to the regional development of our communities. As such, the University must be able to expand its enrolments in its regional locations if the demand is there,” Professor Germov said.
“We work hard to provide viable and relevant courses in our regions, but it is absurd to think that with all this effort to grow regional participation in higher education we have funding caps that put that growth at risk.”
Speaking to the National Press Club of Australia, Mr Tehan said the federal government “accepts the aims” of the Napthine Review’s key findings, and pledged to work “closely with the higher education sector” to improve tertiary education outcomes in non-metropolitan regions.
The Napthine Review’s seven key recommendations:
- Improve access to tertiary study options for students in regional, rural and remote areas.
- Improve access to financial support, to support greater fairness and more equal opportunity.
- Improve the quality and range of student support services for regional, rural and remote students to address the challenges of transition and higher rates of attrition.
- Build aspiration, improve career advice and strengthen regional, rural and remote schools to better prepare students for success.
- Improve participation and outcomes for regional, rural and remote students from equity groups including low SES students, Indigenous students, students with disability and remote students.
- Strengthen the role of tertiary education providers in regional development and grow Australia’s regions.
- Establish mechanisms to coordinate the implementation effort and support monitoring of the Strategy.
The Review also advised that delivering the National Regional, Rural and Remote Education Strategy is a 10-year proposition.