The 2014 Federal Budget delivers mixed news for young people in rural and regional areas according to the Country Education Foundation of Australia (CEF).
CEF CEO, Sarah Taylor, welcomed the extension of Federal Government assistance for tertiary fees to TAFE, diploma and other non-university courses but cautioned that deregulation of university fees could see significant increases in the cost of some higher education courses.
“We are delighted to see the extension of fee-relief assistance to students who want to pursue courses and careers outside of the university system,” Ms Taylor said.
“This is a terrific initiative which will benefit many rural and regional students,” she said.
Ms Taylor said it was difficult to predict the impact of the deregulation of university fees but it was very likely that this would lead to increases in the cost of some courses, which would not be good news for country students.
“Even when they can defer their fees, any increase in those fees is just one more barrier that rural and regional students have to overcome.”
“The government has indicated that part of the additional fee income will be used to fund scholarships for rural and regional students and we are very keen to see the detail on how this will work.”
Rural and regional young people face thousands of dollars of additional costs – for travel, relocation and accommodation – when they have to leave home to pursue their education. As a result, they have much lower participation rates in higher education compared to city students.
“We are hopeful that the Commonwealth scholarships initiative will help to close this significant gap in participation rates.”
The CEF works to support disadvantaged young people in rural and regional areas – providing financial and other assistance to help them access education and jobs.
Media contact: Sarah Taylor (02) 6362 3162