Access and Participation programs are available to help Australians who want to attend university, regardless of circumstances, background or location.
Demand Driven Funding for all First Nations Australians
From 2021, the Australian Government guaranteed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students from regional and remote areas a Commonwealth supported place.
This measure has now been extended to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students regardless of location.
New demand-driven funding will support all First Nations Australians to go to university.
From 2024, all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in Australia will be guaranteed a Commonwealth supported place at a university of their choice, when accepted into their chosen course of study.
An eligible university place is a non-designated, bachelor level course (other than medicine) at an Australian public university.
The Australian Universities Accord process has highlighted the increased challenges First Nations Australians continue to experience, noting to meet the Closing the Gap target ‘by 2031, 70% of First Nations people have a tertiary qualification’, systemic barriers to participation need to be addressed.
Introducing demand driven funding for all First Nations students responds to Priority Action 3 of the Australian Universities Accord Interim Report.
Demand-driven funding for these students will have flow-on benefits for all First Nations communities across Australia by increasing the number of First Nations graduates in the workforce. It will help increase delivery of professional services and support other enterprises requiring university educated workforces. It will also increase the availability of role models in communities for increased aspiration to pursue further education.
Regional University Study Hubs program
Since its commencement in 2018, more than $100 million has been committed for the Regional University Study Hubs program (formerly the Regional University Centres program). There are currently 32 Regional Hubs operating in all states and the Northern Territory. An additional 2 hubs are expected to open from 2023.
In response to the Australian University Accord’s Interim Report, the Australian Government has also announced $34.4 million for the expansion of the program, with up to 20 new Hubs to be established.
Hubs provide facilities and support such as:
- Study spaces
- Video conferencing
- Computing facilities and internet access
- Academic skills support and pastoral care for students studying via distance at any Australian university or vocational education and training provider.
Read more about the Regional University Study Hubs and see if there is one near you.
Suburban University Study Hubs Program
The Australian Government has committed $32.5 million for the Suburban University Study Hubs program. The program will build on the Regional University Study Hubs program (formerly the Regional University Centres) to support underrepresented students in outer metropolitan and peri-urban areas with low university attainment and limited access to a significant physical university campus. Hubs will provide facilities such as:
- Study spaces
- Video conferencing
- Computing facilities and internet access
- Academic skills support and pastoral care
Read more about the Suburban University Study Hubs program.
National Regional, Rural and Remote Tertiary Education Strategy
On 19 June 2020, a series of measures to provide more opportunities for regional Australia were announced as part of the Job-ready Graduates Package. Worth more than $400 million over 5 years, these regional measures include:
- Increased financial support for higher education study
- Improved travel support.
These measures respond to the National Regional, Rural and Remote Tertiary Education Strategy - final report.
This strategy aims to improve:
- Opportunities for regional and remote students to attend university
- The gap in attainment rates between regional and remote students and metropolitan students
- Productivity for the regions
- Research capacity of regional universities
- Potential and opportunity in regional communities
- Investment in regional university campuses.
Tertiary Access Payment
School leavers commencing a Certificate IV or above will benefit from the Tertiary Access Payment (TAP). The TAP means student choices are not restricted by their location.
This helps school-leavers who:
- Live in regional and remote Australia
- Need to relocate for tertiary education.
The TAP is:
- A payment of up to $5,000 for eligible students from outer regional and remote areas and $3,000 for eligible students from inner regional areas
- Non-indexed and means-tested
- Available to school-leavers from inner regional, outer regional or remote areas who:
- Relocate to undertake study more than 90 minutes by public transport from their home
- Undertake full-time (at least 75 per cent of a full-time course load), higher-level tertiary education (Certificate IV and above).
Regional Education Commissioner
By 2030, the Regional Education Commissioner aims to halve the difference in tertiary education outcomes between regional and metropolitan students.
The Commissioner will:
- Oversee the implementation of recommendations from the National Regional, Rural and Remote Tertiary Education Strategy - final report
- Champion regional education across all education sectors
- Oversee and coordinate projects that respond to the strategy
- Work with all tiers of government and other stakeholders.
Read more about the Regional Education Commissioner.
Rural and Regional Enterprise Scholarships program
Applications for the Rural and Regional Enterprise Scholarships (RRES) program have now closed.
The program was implemented under the former government as a terminating program. In line with this commitment, the program has ceased following the completion of Round 6 in 2023.
Existing scholarship recipients will continue to receive scholarship funding as per their Scholarship Agreement, provided they meet eligibility criteria. Please contact the Scholarships Support Organisation, the Queensland Tertiary Admissions Centre, for more information:
The Rural and Regional Enterprise Scholarships (RRES) program delivered more than 6,500 scholarships to regional and remote students from 2017 to 2023. The program aimed to:
- Improve educational opportunities
- Increase access and attainment outcomes
- Support undergraduate, postgraduate and higher‑level vocational education and training.
Scholarships were valued at up to $18,000 for eligible regional and remote students undertaking study from the Certificate IV to PhD level. A further $500 was available to support students undertaking an internship.
Indigenous, Regional and Low-SES Attainment Fund (IRLSAF)
The Indigenous, Regional and Low SES Attainment Fund (IRLSAF) funds universities to support Indigenous students, students from low SES, regional and remote backgrounds.
The IRLSAF realigns existing funding by combining:
- the Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program (HEPPP)
- the National Priorities Pool Program
- Regional Loading
- Enabling Loading
- the new Regional Partnerships Project Pool.
The Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program (HEPPP)
The Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program (HEPPP) provides funding to universities listed in Table A of the Higher Education Support Act 2003 to implement strategies that improve access to undergraduate courses for people from regional and remote Australia, low SES backgrounds and Indigenous persons. The HEPPP also helps to improve the retention and completion rates of those students.
Regional Partnerships Project Pool Program (RPPPP)
The Regional Partnerships Project Pool Program (RPPPP) supports the delivery of multi-year collaborative outreach projects that enable the higher education aspirations of students in regional and remote Australia.
Read more about the Regional Partnerships Project Pool Program.
The National Priorities Pool Program (NPPP)
Under the Indigenous, Regional and Low SES Attainment Fund (IRLSAF) the National Priorities Pool Program (NPPP) is a standalone program. The objectives of the National Priorities Pool Program are to provide grants to Table A higher education providers to conduct research projects and trial initiatives designed to:
- inform future equity policy development and equity practice nationally and at an institutional level
- help increase the number of persons from a low socio-economic status (SES) background, persons from regional areas and remote areas, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons who aspire to, access, participate in, remain in, and succeed in higher education
- help increase the number of persons from a low SES background, persons from regional areas and remote areas, and Indigenous persons who obtain higher education awards.
Higher Education Disability Support Program
The Disability Support Program (DSP) provides funding to eligible higher education providers, to assist with supporting students with disability to access, participate and succeed in higher education.
Providers may use funding for staff training, to better support students with disability, and to modify course content, teaching materials and delivery methods to better meet the needs of students with disability.
The DSP provides funding for the Australian Disability Clearinghouse on Education and Training (ADCET) website. The site provides information, advice and resources to disability practitioners, teachers and students with disability, on inclusive practices within the post-secondary education sector.
National Disability Coordination Officer Program
The National Disability Coordination Officer (NDCO) Program works strategically to assist people with disability to access and participate in tertiary education and subsequent employment.
NDCOs work with stakeholders at a local level to reduce systemic barriers, facilitate smooth transitions, build links and coordinate services for people with disability between the education, training and employment sectors.
National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education (NCSEHE)
On 6 July 2022, Minister Clare announced $20.5 million over four years to expand the work of the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education (NCSEHE) at Curtin University. The Centre will work with the tertiary education sector to understand and implement the best practice approaches to supporting students from underrepresented groups and facilitate the adoption of these approaches in the sector.
The NCSEHE has been established as part of the Australian Government’s efforts to improve higher education outcomes including access, participation, retention, success, and attainment rates, as well as rates of transition to meaningful employment or further study for people from marginalised and disadvantaged backgrounds.
This disadvantaged groups include First Nations Australians, people with disability, people from low socio-economic status (low SES) backgrounds, and people from regional and remote areas, as well as people who experience cumulative disadvantage that results in barriers to higher education.
NCSEHE will support the building and translation to practice of a robust high quality evidence base; strengthen Australia’s student equity in higher education translational research quality, capability, and capacity; drive institutional best practice and improve on the ground delivery of equity measures; and influence evidence based public policy and program design and implementation.