The University of the Sunshine Coast has welcomed a $134.8 million regional universities funding package announced today by Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan.
Mr Tehan visited the Sunshine Coast to announce the package, which provides additional funding to assist regional universities across Australia expand regional campuses, establish study hubs and provide new scholarships for regional students.
“Every Australian, no matter where they live, should have access to Australia’s world-leading higher education system,” Mr Tehan said.
“Our Government’s investment in regional and remote education will give students greater choice and access to opportunities through more Commonwealth-supported places at regional campuses, more scholarships for rural and regional students and more regional study hubs.”
USC Vice-Chancellor Professor Greg Hill congratulated the Minister for developing the package, which includes $30.2 million for USC and recognises the important national role that regional universities play.
“The $30.2 million for student places at our Fraser Coast and Caboolture campuses addresses the disproportional impact that the Federal funding freeze has had on USC,” Professor Hill said.
“Because USC took over responsibility for Fraser Coast in 2016 and Caboolture in 2018, it meant that we weren’t receiving Commonwealth funding for many students who we were already teaching. So today’s announcement is very welcome.
“We’re also pleased about the additional funding for scholarships, as these make a big difference to our students who have to leave home to attend university.”
As chair of the Regional Universities Network (RUN), Professor Hill said the package acknowledged the challenges involved in addressing the very large gap between educational achievement in regional and rural Australia relative to the metropolitan capital cities.
“A one-size-fits all policy for higher education does not meet the needs of regional Australia or the nation,” he said. “Place-based initiatives, such as those announced, are needed to make a difference.
“As anchor institutions for their regions, regional universities have a pivotal role to play in addressing some of the big issues to face Australia.
“Higher education changes lives, not only for the people directly involved, but for their families and communities. RUN congratulates the government on this initiative that demonstrates that it is listening to the voice of regional Australia.”