Pic source: studyoptions.com
PRIME minister Malcolm Turnbull supports efforts to address the financial challenges faced by regional and rural university students.
A series of 15 nationwide Regional Higher Education Forums wrapped up last month, hosted by Nationals senator Bridget McKenzie alongside staff from the federal education and social services departments, students and parents.
Education and social services department staff are set to deliver a suite of recommendations, based on the consultations, by the end of the year.
The Daily Liberal asked the Prime Minister's office how the Turnbull government would support the recommendations of the report, and whether tax relief, changes to HECS or welfare reforms were on the table.
“The Prime Minister is committed to ensuring that all students regardless of their background can access a quality higher education and receive the same level of government support,” a spokesperson from the Prime Minister's office said in a statement.
“He is aware that students from regional and remote areas can face a range of additional issues and supports the work of the regional forums led by Senator Bridget McKenzie to explore how best to address these issues.”
Roughly half as many rural and regional students attend university compared to their city counterparts, according to the Country Education Foundation (CEF), which estimates regional students living and studying in metropolitan areas face accommodation, transport and other costs of $25,000 to $35,000 a year.
Stakeholders at the regional forums suggested a number of possible solutions, including tax relief for parents supporting their children through university, student loans and asking universities to do more in terms of prioritising regional students for low-cost accommodation.
The recommendations of the education and social services will be handed down by the end of the year, with a suite of policy options expected to be announced in 2016.