2019 Regional University Centres

For: 

On 29 April 2019, the Government announced an additional $15 million to establish a further five Regional University Centres (formerly known as Regional Study Hubs), as part of its Plan for Regional Australia. This brings the total investment in the Regional University Centres program to $53.2 million (including Commonwealth Supported Places).

There are currently 16 community owned Regional University Centres located in all Australian states and the Northern Territory. The additional $15 million funding for the program will support an increase in the number of Regional University Centres to a total of 21, enabling more students in rural, regional and remote Australia to access and complete higher education without needing to leave their local communities.

How do I apply?

Please read the application guide and complete all application documents.

Applications and supporting documents must be emailed to the Regional Policy Team at the Department of Education at: regional@education.gov.au

Please ensure all emails containing application documentation include the following information in the Subject field:

  • Name of Regional University Centre
  • If more than one email, please number each email as ‘1 of 2’ and ‘2 of 2’

When will applications close?

Applications have now been extended due to regions affected by bushfires.

FURTHER UPDATE: Applications will now close on Friday 13 December 2019, 11.59 pm (AEDT).

List of Documents:

Application Guide
Coversheet
Application Form
Financial and Credentials Information Form
Subcontractor Credentials Information Form
Capital Works Plan

Briefing session for interested 2019 Regional University Centres

The Department will hold a briefing session for interested applicants after the application process opens.

This briefing session has been scheduled for Wednesday 30 October 2019 at 2:30pm (AEDT)

If you are interested in attending, please send an email request to regional@education.gov.au

2019 Regional University Centres Frequently Asked Questions

You can download the frequently asked questions or browse the sections relevant to you below.

General Information on the Regional University Centres Program

What is a Regional University Centre?

A Regional University Centre is a facility that regional students can use to study tertiary courses locally delivered by distance from any Australian institution. University Centres provide:

  • Infrastructure such as study spaces, break out areas, video conferencing, computing facilities and high-speed internet access.
  • Administrative and academic support services such as developing writing and researching skills and managing administrative processes.
  • Student support services including pastoral support, study advice and assistance with accessing tertiary education student services.

What is the difference between a traditional university campus and a Regional University Centre?

  • The term ‘traditional university campus’ typically indicates co-located physical facilities (as appropriate to the location, disciplines / degrees taught and the students enrolled): teaching facilities, including laboratories, studios, lecture theatres, and tutorial rooms; research facilities; library; student study and work spaces; leisure spaces; staff offices; and student accommodation. It also connotes that a full range of services is delivered at that co-location: lectures; tutorials; academic and student support services (including academic advisement); and administrative services.
  • The Program provides infrastructure support such as study spaces, video conferencing, computing facilities and internet access, as well as pastoral and academic support for students.
  • The Program funding is not intended to replicate the existing traditional university campus model, but to improve access to higher education for regional students by providing flexibility to them if they choose to study locally for part or all of their degree via distance education.
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Eligibility

Who is eligible to apply for the Regional University Centres Program?

  • Community-owned organisations are eligible to apply for Regional University Centres Program funding.
  • To be eligible, applicants must be a body corporate, or be able to demonstrate that they are a prospective body corporate.

What is a community-owned organisation?

  • Community-owned organisations are established and operated for the wellbeing and benefit of others. An eligible community-owned organisation will have a governing body that draws members from the local community in which it operates or from the local community that it serves. For the purposes of this program, a community-owned organisation is a non-government organisation, independent of tertiary education institutions and without individual commercial interests.

Why can only bodies corporate apply for funding under the program?

  • The Regional University Centres program is a grants program established under Division 41 of the Higher Education Support Act 2003 (HESA), for the purpose of supporting open access to higher education across Australia. Under section 41-10 of the HESA, eligibility for grants for this purpose is limited to Table A providers (i.e. public universities) and bodies corporate.

Can a partnership or consortia apply for funding under the Program?

  • Applicants must be a body corporate and must be community owned. The nature and structure of the body corporate entity is not prescribed.

A group of community members are interested in pursuing and applying for this funding – are they eligible if they have not yet formed a registered organisation and/or have no financial records or history?

  • Applicants must provide sufficient evidence to satisfy the department that they are, or will be capable of becoming, a body corporate. Information on how to register a body corporate is available on the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) website: https://asic.gov.au/.
  • If a group is not yet incorporated, a declaration must be submitted with the application, indicating that the group understand it must become a body corporate in order to be eligible for funding. If the group become a successful applicant for funding, execution of the funding agreement is contingent on the group successfully incorporating.
  • Financial history is not the only determinant of an applicant’s ability to achieve financial viability and sustainability. Having a well-researched plan for establishing and operating a Regional University Centre that includes detailed expected income and expenditure is also relevant.
  • There are a range of relevant materials and tools online that may be helpful if you are planning to apply for funding to establish a new Centre, including: https://www.business.gov.au/planning.

Can a local government (i.e. a city or regional council) apply for funding under the program?

  • A local government may apply if it is a body corporate. This will usually be set out in the Local Government Act of the State or Territory in which the local government is located. It is the responsibility of a local government to provide evidence that it is a body corporate.
  • A local government that is not a body corporate is not eligible for funding under the program in its own right, but may be able to establish a body corporate (such as a company or incorporated association) to apply for funding. A local government should seek its own financial, legal and other advice before doing so.

Can pre-existing Regional University Centres apply?

  • Pre-existing Regional University Centres can apply for funding. Funding for the 2019 competitive grants process of the Regional University Centres Program is aimed at establishing new Centres to provide additional study options in new locations for regional and remote students. Applications to expand existing Regional University Centres will not be considered a priority in this funding process.
  • All applicants must meet the eligibility requirements and complete the assessment criteria as detailed in the Program Application Guide.

I’m a Higher Education provider, can I apply for the Regional University Centres Program?

  • Higher education providers (registered with the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency) and Table A and B universities may only apply for the Regional University Centres Program as a partner of a community-owned organisation that meets the Program’s eligibility requirements.
  • Partnerships that include in-kind and financial support as well as other models of collaboration between higher education institutions and Regional University Centres are strongly encouraged however, applicants for the Regional University Centres Program must be eligible community-owned organisations.

Is a trust eligible to apply for funding under the Regional University Centres Program?

  • Only a body corporate is eligible to apply for funding.
  • If the trustee of a trust is a body corporate, that trustee body corporate may apply for Program funding.
  • An individual who is the trustee of a trust is not eligible to apply.

Why has the location of one of the five new Centres already been determined?

  • As part of the Government’s 2019 election commitment to expand the Regional University Centres Program, the Hon Dan Tehan MP, Minister for Education, announced that one of the centre locations would be located in Wangaratta.

Will applicants for the Regional University Centre in Wangaratta have to submit an application for funding?

  • Applications for funding to establish a Regional University Centre in Wangaratta will be required to meet the same eligibility requirements and complete the same assessment criteria as applications for non-Wangaratta Centres.
  • Applications for funding to establish a Regional University Centre in Wangaratta will be assessed against other Wangaratta applications only. Regional University Centres applications in other locations will be assessed against other non-Wangaratta applications only.

Can a proposed Centre span multiple locations?

  • Your proposed centre may include multiple site locations but all funded sites must be located in regional and/or remote Australia. All locations must be specified in your application.

Where can Regional University Centres be located?

  • Regional University Centres must be located in a regional, rural or remote Australian location based on the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Australian Statistical Geographic Standard Remoteness Areas (ASGS) classification.
  • To be regional, rural or remote, Regional University Centres must be located in one of the following remoteness area classifications:
    • Inner Regional Australia (RA2)
    • Outer Regional Australia (RA3)
    • Remote Australia (RA4)
    • Very Remote Australia (RA5)

How do I determine the remoteness area classification of my Regional University Centre?

  • The ASGS classification of current or anticipated centre locations can be determined using the online Doctor Connect tool

When does the Centre have to be established?

  • Successful Regional University Centres are expected to be operational under Conditions of Grant by mid-2020 however, it is understood that Centres may not be fully established and able to support students until Semester 1, 2021.
  • New Centres should aim to be established and open by Semester 1, 2021.

Is there a criteria as part of the assessment process that considers driving distance between a proposed Regional University Centre and a University Campus?

  • Applications for 2019 Regional University Centres will be assessed by the Assessment Panel against the criteria published on our website, see Part 9. Assessment Criteria – Sections D-M of the Application form available here: https://education.gov.au/2019-regional-university-centres. While driving distance between a proposed Regional University Centre and University Campus is not an assessment criteria of the Regional University Centres program, an objective of the program is to expand access to support for tertiary education. Assessment Criteria F also seeks information from applicants on how Centres will address disadvantage and complement existing facilities.
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Forms and submissions

What must be included in my application?

I have completed my application, how do I submit it?

  • Completed applications must be submitted by email to regional@education.gov.au
  • Emails must include ‘Regional University Centre application’ in the subject line of the email.
  • The Regional Policy Team in the Department of Education will provide confirmation that your application has been received within five business days.

Who can I contact if I have questions about the application process or submitting my application?

  • For assistance, please contact regional@education.gov.au
  • Please note that this email address is monitored during business hours (Australian Eastern Standard Time).

What is the closing date for applications? What if I miss the deadline, can I submit an application later this year?

  • Applications have now been extended due to regions affected by bushfires.

    FURTHER UPDATE: Applications will now close on Friday 13 December 2019, 11.59 pm (AEDT).

  • Late submissions may be accepted at the sole and absolute discretion of the department.
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Funding and Payments

How much funding is available for the 2019 Regional University Centres Program?

  • The Government has committed $15 million over four years (commencing in 2019-20) for the 2019 Regional University Centres which includes $6 million for Commonwealth Supported Places (CSPs) that will be allocated to universities on the advice of successful Regional University Centres.

How much 2019 Regional University Centres Program funding can I apply for?

  • It is up to the applicant to determine the amount of funding they are seeking as part of their application for 2019 Regional University Centres funding noting that the Assessment Panel will carefully consider applications in respect of:
    • Total funding available for the 2019 Regional University Centres.
    • Total funding applied for and planned expenditure.
    • Demonstrated value for money.
  • Total funding provided will be determined in consultation with the Department as part of finalising Conditions of Grant with each applicant.

What can Regional University Centres Program funding be used for?

  • Funding can be used for costs associated with the establishment and ongoing operation of the centre for the life of the Conditions of Grant.
    • In the establishment stage, funding could be used for capital works and/or to lease a facility or to acquire electronic and physical resources.
    • In the ongoing operational phase, funding could be used to support human resources, teaching resources and administrative expenses.
  • Funding cannot be used to purchase property or land.
  • Information on what funding can be used for will be detailed in Conditions of Grant with each Regional University Centre.

I have applied for or have received funding for my Centre from another government grant program. Can I still apply under the Program?

  • Yes. You can submit an application for Regional University Centres funding if you have applied for, or have received, Australian Government, State or Territory Government, or local Government funding from a separate funding stream.
  • You must identify other government grant funding in your application and include the funding status (i.e. sought or confirmed). If funding has been confirmed or received, you must supply evidence of that funding source and amount in the budget in your application.

What kinds of infrastructure can funding be used for? For example, can funding be used to pay for internal fit-outs (including partitions)?

  • Funding may be used to lease property and/or facilities, renovate or refurbish facilities and undertake internal-fit outs (including installation of partitions and other furnishings).
  • Funding must not be used to purchase property or land.
  • Applicants intending to undertake capital works (including internal fit-outs) must submit the Capital Works Plan form.
  • If you are not sure if activities you are planning to undertake with program funding are capital works, please contact the Regional Policy Team regional@education.gov.au.  
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Application assessment and decisions

What is the assessment process?

  • All eligible applications will be assessed against the assessment criteria outlined in the Program Application Guide.
  • The department may request advice on applications from local councils, state and territory governments, other Australian Government agencies, independent experts and other external parties, on a range of matters, including but not limited to:
    • the history of the applicant in delivering projects
    • the financial viability of the proposal and applicant
    • the extent to which the proposal aligns with or delivers priorities in state/territory/local community plans
    • confirmation of funding contributions
    • impact of the proposal on the region, including the most appropriate location. 
  • The department will make recommendations on the successful applications to be funded to the Minister.

Who will assess Regional University Centre applications?

  • Assessment of applications against the assessment criteria will be conducted by an internal assessment panel established by the Department of Education.
  • Assessment of Regional University Centres applications will include a review of financial viability which will be conducted by the Department of Jobs and Small Business.

How will eligibility criteria be assessed?

  • The eligibility criteria detailed at 8. Eligibility requirements – Sections A-C of the Application form are not weighted. Eligibility criteria must be met in order to proceed to the next stage of assessment.

How will the assessment criteria be assessed?

  • The individual assessment criteria detailed at 9. Assessment criteria – Sections D-M of the Application form will be rated as either Highly Suitable, Suitable or Unsuitable.

Who will decide which projects are successful?

  • The Minister for Education and Training will determine successful applicants following assessment of applications by an internal panel established by the Department of Education.

When will I find out if my application was successful?

  • It is expected that the Minister will announce the successful recipients of Regional University Centres funding in early 2020.
  • The department will contact successful applicants to discuss the Conditions of the Grant and payment arrangements.

Are financial contributions provided by other parties a key factor in determining successful 2019 Regional University Centres?

  • Financial contributions are a factor that is considered in assessing 2019 Regional University Centres applications however, applications will be assessed for suitability against all assessment criteria.

Will I get feedback if my application is unsuccessful?

  • If you are unsuccessful, you may ask for feedback on your application from the Regional Policy team at the Department of Education and Training (regional@education.gov.au)

Will the department contact me with questions relating to my application?

  • The department may contact you to clarify information provided in your application.
  • The department will only seek or accept additional information during the assessment of your application where necessary to clarify details of your application.
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Other questions

What is in-kind support?

  • In-kind support refers to goods, services and transactions which do not involve money. Examples of in-kind contributions could include, but are not limited to, donations of equipment, premises or floor space, subsidised rent, information technology services and office equipment.

Are there restrictions on the disciplines, fields of study and course levels Centres can support?

  • To be eligible for funding, a Centre must support one or more undergraduate Commonwealth supported course of study from a registered higher education provider.
  • Centres are able to support the provision of vocational education and training courses or higher degrees by research.
    • A list of registered training providers and courses is maintained by ASQA and is available online: https://training.gov.au/

What can students study at Regional University Centres?

  • Students can enrol to study any course through a registered Australian tertiary education institution as the purpose of the program is to increase accessibility and participation for students in regional and remote areas who wish or need to remain in their local community for tertiary study.
  • Centres may also support students temporarily located in the area who are undertaking placements, examinations or other course-specific training.

Are there ongoing Program reporting requirements?

  • Yes. Regional University Centre funding is subject to ongoing reporting requirements. Specific reporting requirements and agreed milestone reporting linked to payments will be detailed within Conditions of Grant for successful applicants.
  • The types of information and data you will need to be able to provide to the department includes:
    • Estimated Full time Student Load (EFTSL) data
    • Staff numbers and qualifications
    • Operational hours and all centre locations
    • Current and anticipated facilities
    • Risk plan and insurance arrangements
    • Detailed information on student support services and pastoral care
    • Higher education provider partnerships
    • Business and industry partnerships (including local and state government)
    • Community organisation partnerships
    • Current and anticipated courses supported through the centre and the number of students undertaking them
    • General courses offered through the centre
    • Planned use of funding and ongoing financial expenditure and income
    • Ongoing project activities, milestones and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Can the Department of Education provide me with relevant higher education student data to assist me with my business case?

  • Data can be obtained from the Higher Education Data Cube (uCube) which provides multi-dimensional time series data based on selected data collected through the Higher Education Statistics Collection. Access to uCube is available on the Higher Education Data Cube (uCube) webpage
  • The Department of Education can also supply you with higher education student data by postcode upon request. Please note that there is a cost associated with requesting this data.
  • A data request form will need to be completed and emailed to the University Statistics team at: university-statistics@education.gov.au
  • For more information on data, visit the data requests, data protocols and data privacy page

Do Centres provide access to research databases?

  • Students enrolled with a tertiary education provider will have access to that provider’s research databases and library resources online. Once enrolled, students will receive log-on information for these services from their education institution.
  • Regional University Centres must be able to support external delivery of tertiary education (distance education) by providing the necessary computing facilities, internet access and software to support online learning as well as administrative and academic support.

Will there be a set number of Centres in each state or territory?

  • There is no set number of Centres for each state and territory.
  • Key objectives of the program are that Centres will support a demonstrated gap in access and support for higher education in regional or remote Australia and will complement existing and/or planned university sites and Centres.

If I am successful will I become eligible for Commonwealth Grant Scheme (CGS) support and/or Commonwealth Supported Places (CSPs)?

  • Regional University Centres are not eligible for direct Commonwealth Grants Scheme (CGS) funding.
  • Funding for the 2019 Regional University Centres is $15 million of which $6 million is for Commonwealth Supported Places (CSPs). This component of funding is allocated directly to the university/ies nominated by each Regional University Centre during establishment of Conditions of Grant.
  • Please see https://www.education.gov.au/commonwealth-grant-scheme-cgs for further information on the mechanics of funding for CSPs.

How will Commonwealth Supported Places (CSPs) be allocated to successful applicants? How many CSPs will be allocated to each Centre?

  • The 2020 CSP allocations for successful 2019 Regional University Centres will be determined following the completion of the assessment process. The Department of Education will seek the total CSP allocation to each university from each Centre and will update relevant university agreements accordingly.
  • Centres should ensure an established agreement is in place to govern their allocation of CSPs with the university or universities selected prior to allocating CSPs. Establishing and maintaining agreements with universities are the responsibility of each Centre.
  • Regional University Centres CSPs are allocated to universities at the direction of each Centre. CSP funding is not paid directly to the Centres.

 

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