Access to higher education remains a challenge in rural and regional areas. Universities and TAFE colleges in regional areas give students the chance to study locally and work locally. Independent Member for Indi, Cathy McGowan AO, said the current system continues to disadvantage students and the region’s ability to reach its potential.
Government funding in education must be viewed as an investment in our future, and take into account the needs of students in North East Victoria and regional Australia. Ms McGowan said the Coalition policy to deregulate universities would have “severe and long-term negative impacts on regional universities, our workforces and ability to attract investment.”
“In my second term, I will continue to oppose any legislation that moves to deregulate universities and fight for increased support for rural and regional families to support access to higher education,” she said.
Ms McGowan is committed to working with La Trobe University and other regional universities to support a national Strategy for Regional Higher Education. “This includes building pathways from school, to TAFE and University,” she said.
Tertiary education participation rates in the Hume region, which takes in much of Indi, are about 10 per cent lower than the Victorian average. “This rate must be lifted to get the skilled workforce we need to deliver in health, agriculture, manufacturing and small business sectors in Wodonga, Wangaratta, Benalla and Mansfield,” Ms McGowan said.
Ms McGowan welcomed the Nationals announcement last week that changes would be made to enable quicker access to Youth Allowance, and funding would also be provided to create more rural and regional scholarships.
“Changes to Youth Allowance will help ease the burden on families and have my full support,” Ms McGowan said. “Since being elected to Parliament I have been calling for an increase in rural and regional scholarships, and I am pleased the Government considers this an important investment.”