Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Coalition to improve access to education for regional students



Download PDFDownload PDF

THE HON. BARNABY JOYCE MP DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER MINISTER FOR AGRICULTURE AND WATER RESOURCES

SENATOR SIMON BIRMINGHAM MINISTER FOR EDUCATION AND TRAINING

MS BRIDGET McKENZIE SENATOR FOR VICTORIA

23 June 2016

COALITION TO IMPROVE ACCESS TO EDUCATION FOR REGIONAL STUDENTS

The Coalition has announced a $152 million package to improve access to educational opportunities for regional students.

The announcement was made by Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Nationals Barnaby Joyce during his address to the National Press Club yesterday in Canberra.

“We cannot put a university in every regional town. We cannot put a high school in every corner of our nation. Therefore, we must have the policy settings right so that people get greater access to that ticket to their own future,” Minister Joyce said.

“A re-elected Coalition Government will deliver $83 million to reduce the period students need to be employed under the self-supporting criteria from 18 months to 14 months under Youth Allowance and ABSTUDY living allowance for regional and remote students.

“This will mean that a student is able to meet the relevant earnings criteria to prove independence within one GAP year, as opposed to having to work for longer and delay their university commencement. The longer a student is not engaged in further study after school, the less likely it is that they will re-engage.”

A re-elected Coalition Government would also deliver $24 million for 1,200 new Rural and Regional Enterprise scholarships for undergraduate, postgraduate and vocational education students to undertake STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) studies.

The scholarships will be valued at up to $20,000 each.

Minister Joyce also announced an additional $45 million towards isolated children, which includes a 50% increase to the Assistance for Isolated Children’s Additional Boarding Allowance.

“The Additional Boarding Allowance provides a means-tested supplementary payment to provide additional support for low-income families whose geographically isolated student boards away from their principal family home,” Minister Joyce said.

“The Coalition will conduct an independent comprehensive review into equity of education access for rural and regional students to seek fresh ideas and fresh thinking to bridge the divide.”

Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham said the new measures were part of the Coalition’s fully-funded plan to support the education needs of rural and regional students.

“Around 75 per cent of Australia’s fastest-growing industries require STEM skills and industries but unfortunately the performance of Australian students in mathematics, science and reading has declined over time,” Minister Birmingham said. “The Coalition’s education package will help to raise student aspiration and remove the barriers to ensure rural and regional students are well-placed for the 21st century economy.”

Chair of the Parliament’s Education and Employment Legislation Committee, Senator Bridget McKenzie, said the initiative would mean regional students who face significant financial barriers and who would otherwise not make it into higher education, will now have the chance to do so.

“People from regional and remote Australia remain under-represented at universities. While a quarter of the general community lives in regional and remote areas, they represent only one in five students at university,” Senator McKenzie said.

Media contacts:

Minister Joyce: Gerard McManus (0477) 391 580

Minister Birmingham: James Murphy (0478) 333 974

Senator McKenzie: Russ Street (0438) 066 825