Budget 2019-20: Rural and regional education focus
Country Education Foundation of Australia (CEF) is pleased to see a focus on rural and regional communities and further education in the 2019-20 Budget delivered last night and fully supports the responses of institutions such as the Regional Universities Network (RUN).
In its submission to the RRR Expert Advisory Group, CEF similarly expressed a need to place a focus on rural and regional students’ recognition in the Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program (HEPPP), and importantly, the need for the funding cycle to be reviewed, with year-to-year uncertainty making it difficult to commit to long term assistance through the program. Most significantly, CEF highlights the need to redefine what success looks like in regional areas. As such, we are pleased not only to see funding allocated to students attending rural and regional universities, but also the prioritisation of VET sector training and information.
In response to the Budget CEF CEO Wendy Cohen says: “We are excited to see rural and regional education, and in particular further education, finally receiving the attention needed. We are pleased with the inclusions in this Budget, however we are well aware we must keep momentum going. We need to continue to advocate for equality in education and close the education participation gap”.
The Morrison Government will administer 4720 new scholarships, to a total value of $93.7m over the next four years to encourage both domestic and international students to undertake study in regional areas. There is also $525m on the table to reform the VET sector, increasing knowledge and access and creating consistency across the sector. Of significance to CEF, $67.5m of this will be directed to regional areas.
“Redefining success is crucial to raising aspirations in rural and regional areas. And once we redefine success, we need to be able to provide the best information on ways to achieve education goals, whatever they may be,” says Ms Cohen.