Charles Sturt welcomes 20,000 new university places for under-represented students

17 AUGUST 2022

Charles Sturt welcomes 20,000 new university places for under-represented students

The places will be allocated to students from low-socio economic status backgrounds, rural and remote areas, First Nations people, first-in-family students and people with disabilities.

Charles Sturt University has welcomed the Australian Government’s decision to fund 20,000 additional university places to tackle skills shortages and give more students from under-represented backgrounds access to higher education.

On Tuesday 16 August, Treasurer, The Hon Jim Chalmers MP, and Minister for Education, The Hon Jason Clare MP announced the additional places will be allocated over two years from the start of 2023 with an investment of up to $485.5 million over the next four years.

Under the plan, universities will bid for allocations of new student places, with courses in education, health, engineering and information technology prioritised – all fields where Charles Sturt already produces highly skilled and sought-after graduates. The places will be allocated to students from low-socio economic status (SES) backgrounds, rural and remote areas, First Nations people, first-in-family students and people with disabilities.

Charles Sturt Vice-Chancellor Professor Renée Leon commended the Government for its effort to increase equity in higher education, adding that Charles Sturt has a proven record as a driver of access to higher education for disadvantaged people.

“Charles Sturt University is proud to open its doors to students who would otherwise, and for reasons beyond their control, be denied access to the knowledge and skills they need to make positive impacts in their careers and communities,” Professor Leon said.

“Our School or Rural Medicine is a prime example of this. The first cohort was made up entirely of students from regional, rural and remote locations, while the second and latest cohort includes three First Nations students.

“We have already taken action to expand this equitable approach, with 74 per cent of our early entry offers for 2023 so far going to prospective students from regional, rural or remote areas.

“We know that these students, if given access to a world-class tertiary education in regional Australia, will help fill the vital skills gaps our communities are facing.

“We look forward to demonstrating to the Government that Charles Sturt University is ready to lead the charge among Australian universities in facilitating access to higher education for anyone who wants it.”

In 2021, Charles Sturt’s student participation rates for low SES, First Nations and regional Australians were amongst the highest in the Australian university sector:

  • 20.7 per cent of students were from low SES backgrounds.
  • 4.2 per cent of domestic students were First Nations Australians. Sector average: 2 per cent.
  • 51 per cent of students were from regional, rural or remote locations. Sector average: 24 per cent.

The 2021 Quality Indicators of Learning and Teaching (QILT) Graduate Outcomes Survey results revealed that Charles Sturt’s graduates in the prioritised course areas have some of the highest employment rates among Australian universities:

  • Teaching: 86.7 per cent in full-time employment within three months (national average – 80.2 per cent)
  • Health: 78.1 per cent in full-time employment within three months (national average – 69.9 per cent)
  • Computing and information systems: 78.9 per cent in full-time employment within three months (national average – 71.8 per cent)

Addressing the Universities Australia conference recently, Minister Clare said the new Government would work with universities to pursue a goal of increasing the higher education participation rates of low SES, First Nations and regional Australians.

“Where you live, how much your parents earn, whether you are Indigenous or not, is still a major factor in whether you are a student or a graduate of an Australian university,” the Minister said in his speech on Wednesday 6 July.

Minister Clare visited the University’s Orange campus last month, meeting with Vice-Chancellor Professor Leon and Regional Education Commissioner The Hon Fiona Nash, as well as students and staff from the University.

The Minister’s campus tour included an invitation to an Indigenous Health tutorial for second-year School of Rural Medicine students, as well as speaking with staff and students at campus’s First Nations Student Support Centre.

Charles Sturt graduates more than 900 teachers every year and recently announced a program to help address the nation’s teaching crisis – the Collaborative Teacher’s Aide Pathway – which provides financial support to teachers’ aides and other classroom support personnel while fast-tracking their full teaching qualifications by recognising their skills from time spent in the classroom and previous study.

Media Note:

For more information please contact Charles Sturt Media Manager Dave Neil on 0407 332 718 or at dneil@csu.edu.au

Image note: Vice-Chancellor Professor Renée Leon and Minister for Education, The Hon Jason Clare MP pictured at the Charles Sturt Orange campus last month.

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