Flinders University education expert and author of the 2017/18 Independent Review into Regional, Rural and Remote Education in Australia, Emeritus Professor John Halsey, has welcomed the government’s announcement of a Commissioner to oversee implementation of the National Regional, Rural and Remote Tertiary Education Strategy (the Napthine Review.)
Professor Halsey says expanding the opportunities and capacities of Australia’s regional, rural and remote (RRR) students and communities is critical. Compared to residents in cities, regional Australians are around 40 per cent less likely to gain a higher-level tertiary education qualification, and less than half as likely to obtain a university degree by the age of 35. Ramifications include lower levels of achievement, opportunity and life satisfaction at a personal level, and reduced contributions to entrepreneurship and Australia’s economic and social fabric at a broader scale.
“Vibrant and productive rural communities are integral to Australia’s sustainability and prosperity,” Professor Halsey says.
“The creation of a Regional Educational Commissioner is a very welcome development and will further help to put the needs, aspirations and contributions of RRR areas firmly on policy and operational agendas.”
The government initiative aims to halve the disparity in tertiary education outcomes between regional and metropolitan students by 2030.
Professor Halsey says the remit of the Commissioner across early childhood through to university level will enable the numerous and interconnecting factors that contribute to lower RRR tertiary outcomes to be comprehensively addressed.
“The announcements by the Minister are timely, strategic and thankfully come with resourcing to drive change and improvements.”