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Australian Government to invest $66.9 million into regional university education

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Photo by Shutterstock.

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The Australian Federal Government has announced the locations of ten new Regional University Study Hubs as part of a university expansion project.

Study hubs aim to make universities more accessible to students who are living in regional areas across Australia.

In total, the Australian Federal Government will invest almost $67 million to establish the study hubs in the outer suburbs of major cities.

The new study hub locations will be in:

  • East Arnhem Land, Northern Territory
  • Victor Harbor, South Australia
  • Warwick, Queensland
  • Chinchilla, Queensland
  • Innisfail, Queensland
  • King Island, Tasmania
  • Katanning, Western Australia
  • The Pilbara (Tom Price and Onslow), Western Australia
  • Central Western Queensland (Longreach, Barcaldine, Blackall, Winton, Boulia, Bedourie, Birdsville and Jundah)
  • East Gippsland (Mallacoota, Orbost, Omeo, Heyfield and Yarram), Victoria

Funding will also be provided to two existing hubs in Cowra and Mudgee, New South Wales.

The expansion forms part of the Government's response to the Universities Accord Interim Report.

The Universities Accord was established in 2022 to determine a long-term plan for lasting reform of the higher education sector.

With the Interim Report finalised at over 400 pages long including 47 recommendations, it's believed it will lay the groundwork for a complete sector reform.

The key recommendation from the report was to increase the number of people who attend university to help supply the number of skilled workers required to support the future of the Australian economy.

This increase will in part come from increasing the number of students from disadvantaged backgrounds including Indigenous Australians, students living with disabilities, students from low socioeconomic backgrounds and students from rural and regional areas.

These study hubs will help cater to those from disadvantaged backgrounds by providing a local facility for regional students to study tertiary courses such as a Masters in Educational Leadership from any Australian institution.

The study hubs will include access to high-speed internet, computer labs, video conferencing facilities, study areas and break-out spaces.

Student support services such as pastoral care and study advice, as well as academic support services such as developing research and writing skills and navigating administrative processes will also be available at the hubs.

When announcing the initiative, Federal Education Minister, Jason Clare acknowledged that more young Australians should have a chance at receiving a university education.

"Today, almost one in two young people in their 20s and their 30s have a university degree. But not everywhere. Not in the outer suburbs and not in regional Australia."

"The Universities Accord makes it clear that we need more people from the regions and outer suburbs to get a university qualification."

The new study hubs will form part of a network including 34 existing regional university hubs located across Australia.

These 34 hubs currently support nearly 4,000 students studying more than 1,000 different courses, through more than 200 different tertiary education providers.

Assistant Minister for Education and Regional Development Senator Anthony Chisholm said people from regional, rural and remote Australia are almost half as likely to obtain a university degree compared to those living in major cities.

"The expansion of the Regional University Study hubs program will remove barriers for more students so they can access a high-quality tertiary education."

"These hubs create a campus-like environment where students can access support, the latest technology and be part of an engaging learning environment to help them achieve their academic goals, without having to leave their community."

Photo by Shutterstock.
Photo by Shutterstock.

The benefits of Regional University Study Hubs

Regional University Study Hubs support students in rural, regional and remote locations to succeed in their tertiary education without having to leave their communities.

Each hub is unique and reflects the community it serves including the place, people and local industry.

For first-year students in particular, stress, isolation and loneliness are known symptoms that coincide with the shift in lifestyle that comes with being a university student.

Strong support networks are important to help manage these issues, and remaining within the communities where these environments are fostered is vital for a new student's mental well-being.

Connecting with others is another important part of the education experience.

The physicality of classmates creates a sense of community that can easily be lost in online environments, and the study hubs allow students to connect with other people who share their academic interests.

Accessing the Regional University Study Hubs

Regional University Study Hubs were first announced in 2018 with additional hubs opening in 2020, 2021 and 2022.

The new study hubs are expected to become available to students over the next 12 months, with applications expected to open in the coming months.

Stay up to date with the latest news via the Regional University Study Hubs Network.