Regional universities have very distinct needs which must be addressed by distinct government policy.
We firstly need to recognise that regional universities are very different to metropolitan ones and face unique challenges, not just because of the tyranny of distance, but also owing to greater difficulties in achieving economies of scale and offering a comprehensive range of subjects.
They are nevertheless vital to Australia’s education fabric and make an enormous contribution to regional Australia, its sustainable future, and therefore the nation.
The economic and social contribution of these universities to their region is extensive, but more importantly, students who study there are demonstrably far more likely to go on to pursue a career in regional Australia.
If we agree that regional universities are quite different and that it is in the national interest to secure their future, it follows that we need a distinct regional universities policy from government.
It is not simply a case of the regional universities putting their hand out for more public funds.
As I travel around the country listening to stakeholders in regional universities, the message is invariably a desire for more communication with government in order to develop smarter, win-win regional higher education policies.
Senator Fiona Nash
Shadow Parliamentary Secretary