Victoria Shadow Minister for Tertiary Education and Training Peter Hall
Regional Blueprint Fails Students
Victor P Taffa
The Brumby Government’s regional blueprint will do little to improve higher education opportunities for students living in regional Victoria, Shadow Minister for Tertiary Education and Training Peter Hall said today.
Mr. Hall said the $103.6 Million for higher education was spread over five years and represented little increase in real funding.
“The regional blueprint does not deliver any substantial improvement to higher education opportunities.” Mr. Hall said.
“Most of this money is funded through the Rural Infrastructure Development Fund which means it can only be used to address infrastructure needs.”
“Studies have shown that the overwhelming barrier for country students participating in higher education is the cost of living away from home.” Mr. Hall said.
“Building student accommodation at existing regional university campuses will do little to alleviate this problem. Students will still have accommodation and living costs to contend with.”
Mr. Hall said Labor was out of touch with the needs of regional students.
“If the government was serious about lifting participation rates in higher education, it would address the need to improve retention rates and achievement at secondary schools.” Mr. Hall said.
“There is no money to fund the many proposed education precincts at regional locations, nor is there any assistance for country schools to broaden curriculum offerings.”
Mr. Hall said Professor Kwong Lee-Dow had advised the government to better utilise TAFE networks in collaboration with universities to deliver higher education programs through the creation of a Facilities Partnership Fund.
“It is an insult that John Brumby has allocated a pitiful $9 Million over five years to achieve this important aim.” Mr. Hall said.
“TAFE networks reach into all our regional cities and most towns and have the potential to provide a major conduit to higher education for country students.”
“Instead the Brumby Government’s TAFE reforms have priced students out of higher education, causing a 60 % drop in regional enrolments this year.” Mr. Hall said.