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“The national statistics show there is a persistent relationship between location and educational outcomes.”

Emeritus Professor Halsey – IRRRRE final report, 2018.

THE RESEARCH

The issue of equity in education for rural and regional students has long been studied by tertiary institutions, governments and independent organisations. Here are some of the concerning statistics regarding our students when it comes to education:

  • Successful completion of year 12 or equivalent drops from 78% in major cities to 43% in very remote areas
  • Only 39% in regional areas and 32% in remote areas aspire to higher education
  • Parents in regional areas are up to 12.3% less likely to expect their children to go on to higher education
  • Over 64% of regional students worried about their financial situation
  • 19% often go without food or necessities due to financial hardship
  • Less than 1/3 of all Australians in country areas have a university qualification or higher-level VET qualification, compared to more than ½ in metropolitan areas
  • 31% of country students cite financial difficulties as the reason for considering early departure from higher education
  • Up to 57% of regional students need to relocate for university studies
  • 28.4% of country students also come from a low socioeconomic background

There is no doubt that students from rural, regional and remote areas face unique and often significant challenges in undertaking, aspiring to and accessing education.

WHAT WE KNOW FROM OUR CEF STUDENTS

Our CEF-supported students identify a number of issues from their authentic, lived experiences when it comes to thinking about and pursuing education after school:

  • They often worry about the financial impact their study and living needs will have on their parents and family
  • Many find it very difficult to transition to the ‘real world‘ when having to move away from family and friends and establish new networks
  • The geographic distances they need to travel whether for university, employment of TAFE-VET sector training is significant and very costly
  • Uncontrollable events like drought, bushfires and COVID-19 play a large part in their decision to defer study or withdraw after enrolment
  • Often they are required to undertake part-time employment in order to meet living expenses – this detracts from their ability to focus on studies and do their best

GOVERNMENT RESPONSE

In 2017, the Australian Government commissioned an independent study into the factors affecting education for country youth – the Independent Review into Regional, Rural and Remote Education (IRRRRE).

The study identifies 9 key areas creating disadvantage and barriers for our youth across all levels, ages and forms of education.

As a result, the National Rural, Regional and Remote Tertiary Education Strategy has been implemented. This focus on the education of our students and the challenges they face shows this is a national issue, and one we must all work together to address.

While this is a start, there is no question that the work of CEF plays a vital part is helping address the issues our student face.

COUNTRY STRONG

What we do know is that no matter what is thrown at them, our country students always show resilience and determination, finding a way to make their education goals reality. And what we can say for certain is that every CEF-supported student we talk to is forever grateful for the support they receive.

Not just for the financial support, but the social, emotional and community support that makes them feel empowered, and makes the transition to life after school that little bit easier. 

**For a list of references for statistics provided, please click here.