A UNIVERSITY of Ballarat-led group of six regional universities is lobbying the federal government for new ways to attract students.
Launched yesterday via video link across Australia, the Regional Universities Network (RUN) policy advice, Smarter Regions, Smarter Australia, highlights 11 key priorities.
They include initiatives and incentives to facilitate partnerships among regional universities in teaching and learning; allowing HECS-HELP loans to cover regional accommodation and offering regional university scholarships.
RUN chair Professor David Battersby said RUN universities taught more than 100,000 students across 29 campuses, or nine per cent of enrolments in Australian public
“We, as a group of regional universities, have come together and formed to lobby government to advocate on behalf of the regions we serve,” Professor Battersby said.
“Today was an opportunity to articulate in our policy advice the sort of issues that we think are important for regional Australia and especially regional universities.”
The 11 key priorities spanned issues to do with learning, teaching and research and funding regional universities.
The initiatives were around seeing the regional universities as the engine room of regional Australia.
Other initiative in the policy include enhancing international student recruitment to regional universities by providing bonus points to students towards Australian residency for attending regional campuses, particularly for those studying in areas of regional skills need.
It also suggests providing an extra year for international student to work after completion of undergraduate or post-graduate courses.
Professor Battersby said lifting the student participation rates was also a key issue.
“They lag 20 per cent point compared with the students from capital cities of Australia,” he said.
“And we don’t think that’s good enough.”
Professor Battersby said their initial consultation with both sides of the government had been positive.