The Regional Universities Network (RUN) is of the view that regional development and decentralisation policy and programs could be improved by better harnessing the expertise and resources of regional universities.
Regional universities are anchor institutions for their regions, and are commonly the drivers of economic growth through their graduates, research, service and employment. The role of universities in regional development is better recognised in Europe and the UK through policies such as Smart Specialisations and City Deals.
Furthermore, existing policies and programs in Australia do not always work in unison to support regional development e.g. parts of the Government’s recent higher education reform package will disproportionately, negatively affect regional universities and regional students. More could be done to harmonise policy at the Commonwealth level, and between the Commonwealth and other levels of Government.
A National Regional Higher Education Strategy, as proposed by Cathy McGowan MP during the debate on the Higher Education Support Legislation Amendment (A More Sustainable, Responsive and Transparent Higher Education System) Bill 2017 (HESLA Bill), could work to put regional campuses at the centre of harmonised policy and programs across education, employment, research, innovation and regional development.