On 12 November 2018, the Minister for Education, the Hon Dan Tehan MP, announced that the Government would develop a National Regional, Rural and Remote Education Strategy, focused on improving tertiary education participation and outcomes for students from regional, rural and remote areas, as part of a broader Regional Education package.
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The development of the Strategy builds on the Government's response to the Independent Review into Regional, Rural and Remote Education (the Halsey Review). Recommendation 11 of the review proposed that the government 'establish a national focus for regional, rural and remote education, training and research to enhance access, outcomes and opportunities in regional Australia'.
A Regional Education Expert Advisory Group was established to lead this work. The members of the Regional Education Expert Advisory Group were:
- The Hon Dr Denis Napthine, former Victorian Premier (Chair)
- Emeritus Professor Peter Lee, former Vice Chancellor Southern Cross University
- Ms Caroline Graham, Chief Executive Officer, Regional Skills Training
- Ms Meredith Wills, former Director, Geraldton Universities Centre.
The Advisory Group provided the National Regional, Rural and Remote Tertiary Education Strategy final report (Napthine Review) in June 2019, and it was released by the Government on 28 August 2019.
Australian Government Response
Key initiatives to address the outcomes of the Review include:
- A $5000 Tertiary Access Payment for regional students
- An increase in Commonwealth Grant Scheme funding for regional university campuses
- Establishing a Regional Education Commissioner
- Strengthening and expanding the Regional University Centres program
- Enabling Indigenous students from regional and remote areas to access demand-driven Commonwealth-supported university places.
- Enhancing the research capacity of regional universities
- Improving Fares Allowance to reduce the waiting time for first-year payment to support students to visit home during their mid-year break.
Read more on the full package of regional measures.
These new initiatives will commence from 2021.
The Regional Education Expert Advisory Group released a framing paper on 20 December 2018 and invited public submissions. Submissions closed on 1 February 2019.
The published submissions are available to view.