The current review of higher education flags significant change and overhaul for the sector. CSU in its submission to the Government’s first review paper Universities at the Crossroads, argues that universities in the regions are integral to regional growth. The submission states that if CSU is to continue to serve its regional communities, it must first and foremost be supported and funded to continue to offer a full range of university activities.
CSU cautions the government against an option of re-creating a dual university system similar to the pre 1989 model of Colleges of Advanced Education and universities, where for example, only chosen institutions would have a research capacity or provide higher degrees.
"Such an option would be extremely damaging to CSU and its regional communities, and would have national consequences as the economic, social and educational divide between city and rural Australia widened," the CSU submission states.
The CSU response states that for the University to develop as a regional university, the reforms need to address:
- The need for an appropriate funding model, stating that the current funding system inadequately funds CSU when, for example, it introduces courses that are designed to meet rural and regional needs. The model also fails to compensate CSU for the higher costs it faces in operating many campuses across NSW.
- Student access and equal opportunity, stating that any changes to the higher education system should not force regional and rural students to move to major cities to pursue higher education. The university argues that, if the government increases costs on students to attend university, the biggest burden will be borne by rural students and their parents.
- Contribution to national research, recognising the importance of CSU’s research profile that contributes significantly to regional and rural issues, as well as to critical national objectives.
- Contribution to national economy, CSU research indicates that 64 per cent of its regional students stay in the regions and 58 per cent of CSU students from metropolitan areas start their employment in regional Australia. Key outcomes of this are economically and socially vibrant regional communities and stemming the migration of rural people and assets to metropolitan areas.
Charles Sturt University will provide responses to the review process as issue papers are released.