Identifying ways to support regional Tasmanians into higher education has been the focus of a forum today in Campbell Town.
Federal Member for Lyons Eric Hutchinson hosted the Regional and Higher Education Forum to further understand the needs of the community.
“We had a fantastic turnout from around the State that included Principals, teachers, UTAS, training centres and local Councillors.”
“There are 15 forums being held around the country and I wanted to make sure regional Tasmania was part of the national conversation,” Mr Hutchinson said.
“Today’s forum was aimed at identifying new and innovative ideas to better support regional and remote students to access higher education. We discussed the varying reasons that a large amount of students from rural and regional Tasmania are not aspiring to go on to higher education.
“There shouldn’t be any additional hurdles for rural students to go onto higher education if they choose to. However, the fact is, it is much more problematic.”
The forum was planned after the departments of Education and Social Services recently investigated the barriers to higher education faced by regional and remote students, including costs, socioeconomic situations and school experiences.
Mr Hutchinson was joined by Senate Standing Committee on Education and Employment Chair Senator Bridget McKenzie and representatives from the departments of Education and Social Services.
“Rural and regional Tasmania has unique issues and challenges when it comes to their young people accessing higher education. Additionally, the Tasmanian education system is very different to the mainland, even in relation to rural and regional mainland,” Senator McKenzie said.
“As a Federal government we have to take those regional differences into account. There is no one- size-fits-all solution and we have to work towards policy that suits rural and regional Australia and addresses the individual differences students are facing in Tasmania.”
Mr Hutchinson said there also appears to be a disconnect relating to the mechanisms for funding.
“Programmes are funded through the Department of Social Security so consideration needs to be given to ensure the departments are working together,” he said.
“Today’s forum will help shape a final report which will be presented to Minister for Education Christopher Pyne and Minister for Social Services Scott Morrison later this year.
“The recommendations in the final report will become a catalyst for change.”