The Regional Universities Network (RUN) endorses the five convictions which inform the Independent Review into Regional, Rural and Remote Education discussion paper:
Vibrant and productive rural communities are integral to Australia’s sustainability and prosperity – socially, economically and environmentally.
Focussing on ideas and options for rethinking and reframing education in regional, rural and remote areas is likely to be more productive than simply concentrating on “the problems”.
Student achievements and beyond-school opportunities are shaped by a diverse blend of inschool and community and home factors, as well as interactions between them.
Government and department/sector policy settings are very significant in developing possibilities for change together with the work of parents and communities.
Improvement in education is achieved by exploring how existing resources can be used more effectively, not just be allocating more of them.
And makes the following recommendations:
Education should be seen as a major lever to drive economic development in regional Australia. Issues, policy and funding around school education and transition to work or further education should not be seen in isolation from other issues around regional economic development. Governments should ensure that relevant policy settings are consistent and working together across the school, higher education, industry and regional development space. e.g. parts of the Government’s proposed higher education reforms will be damaging to regional education, students and communities.
Encouragement should be given by all levels of Government through policy and programs for regional and other students to undertake further study, and employment, in regional Australia. Students who study in the regions at a tertiary level are more likely to stay in the regions to work.
Lifting Year 12 completions and tertiary education attainment in the regions must be a priority. Programs to support aspiration raising for students are critical, as are professional development programs for teachers. Regional universities are playing a key role in delivering these programs. Long-term funding commitment is required for the programs to change behaviour in the long-term.
Enabling programs and alternative pathways to higher education help many regional students to succeed at university, and must be encouraged and supported.
Various programs and initiatives are operating to encourage entrepreneurialism and connection students and the community and business – these should be expanded and persisted with in the long-term
Better and up-to-date careers advice is needed in schools. Careers advisers can be supported including via outreach from regional universities.
One of the most significant reasons students drop out of university courses is financial hardship. More programs/scholarships to assist and support students financially in the regions would assist.