Regional students will enjoy easier access to higher education opportunities under a new $20 million fund officially launched today in Bendigo by Minister for Higher Education and Skills Peter Hall.
Mr Hall said the $20 million Regional Partnerships Facilitation Fund would increase alliances between universities and Vocational Education and Training (VET) providers in regional Victoria.
“This initiative aims to increase alliances between TAFE institutes and universities to deliver a greater range of higher education programs in regional centres, giving more students the option to study in their hometown,” Mr Hall said.
“In particular, this program aims to increase the number of TAFE campuses providing degree level courses to make higher education opportunities more accessible for regional students and boost participation rates across the state.
“It will also encourage greater use of existing infrastructure and resources between institutions in regional Victoria.”
Mr Hall said the establishment of the fund was a key recommendation of a 2009 report advising on the development of the Victorian Tertiary Education Plan.
“The report found the lack of access to higher education was exacerbating the trend of young regional Victorians leaving their communities to access education,” Mr Hall said.
“Higher education enrolment statistics show a significant disparity between regional students and their metropolitan counterparts. Only 30.5 per cent of regional students who completed year 12 last year enrolled in a university course, compared with 50.7 per cent of metropolitan students.“
Mr Hall said funding for the Regional Partnerships Facilitation Fund would be provided through the Victorian Coalition Government’s $1 billion Regional Growth Fund.
“Launched earlier this month, the Regional Growth Fund is the Coalition Government’s commitment to creating new prosperity, more opportunities and a better quality of life for regional Victorians over the next eight years through initiatives like the Regional Partnerships Facilitation Fund,” Mr Hall said.
The Regional Partnerships Facilitation Fund is a competitive fund that will support the delivery of projects that contribute to increasing the rate of higher education participation, attainment and achievement.
Over the next month the first of two $10 million application rounds opens to eligible higher education and vocational training providers, and partner organisations, including local government, schools and industry.
Funding application guidelines were released today as part of the launch and are now available on skills.vic.gov.au