Federal Member for Indi, Cathy McGowan AO, has spoken in Parliament about the importance of tertiary education in rural and regional communities and detailed how cuts to funding will be detrimental.
Speaking in Parliament on Tuesday evening, March 25, Ms McGowan said Indi was blessed by the presence of a La Trobe campus in Wodonga and Charles Sturt University branch in Wangaratta, and two TAFE colleges, GOTAFE in Wangaratta and Wodonga Institute of TAFE.
“I would like to acknowledge and pay tribute to the staff, students and families who support the work of La Trobe University. We, as a community, are grateful for your work and dedication,” Ms McGowan said.
“One of the greatest outcomes is that 90 per cent of 2012 graduates from La Trobe's Albury-Wodonga campus are employed in our local area, with only 10 per cent going away to the city following graduation.”
“It is my belief that, of all the investments a community can make, investment in education gives some of the best returns.
“For the people of Indi, access to tertiary education is a key priority; sadly, there is a gap between the aspiration and the reality.”
Ms McGowan said rural communities benefited where strong regional educational institutions were in place, and the public good of an educated and skilled workforce resulted in high levels of capacity and capability.
“Where we need growth, development and innovation, we are facing contraction and reduction—one of the causes is the efficiency dividend, which will severely reduce funding to La Trobe University, including the Albury/Wodonga Campus by $30 million between 2014 and 2017,” Ms McGowan said.
“These cuts will have a significant impact on teaching, learning and research grants and is a most worrying development.”
Ms McGowan will meet with all education providers in the near future, to develop a long-term strategic plan for education in Indi.