CCA welcomes Government response to Halsey review of regional, rural and remote education

Community Colleges Australia has welcomed the Commonwealth Government’s response to the Halsey Independent Review into Regional, Rural and Remote Education (IRRRRE).

Professor John Halsey conducted the review to examine the challenges faced by these students and find innovative solutions to help them succeed at school and beyond, and reported on 13 April 2018.

Professor Halsey made 11 recommendations and suggested 53 actions, covering curriculum and assessment, principals and teachers, career education, early childhood and the importance of school readiness, expanding vocational education and training and university opportunities and pathways, philanthropy and entrepreneurship, information and communication technologies, improving student support and improving regional economic sustainability.

In accepting all 11 recommendations of the report, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack and Minister for Social Services Dan Tehan said:

"We believe in Australia your post code should not determine your potential…. Everyone deserves the opportunity to pursue their passions and get a quality education…. There’s clearly a gap between the city and the bush in the level of study or qualifications students achieve…. Education needs in rural Australia are different from those in the cities.”

The Government responses relevant to Australia’s not-for-profit adult and community education providers include:

“In the VET space the Commonwealth will continue to engage with Skills Ministers through the COAG Industry and Skills Council and to increase the quality and raise the status of this important sector…. The Government is keen to ensure that VET and higher education pathways offer regional, rural and remote students the opportunity to continue their education

“The $24 million Regional and Rural Enterprise Scholarships Program aims to improve access to educational opportunities for regional, rural and remote students. The program will provide at least 1200 undergraduate, postgraduate and VET students a scholarship to study STEM disciplines, including health and agriculture.”

Community Colleges Australia responds:

“The Government’s complete endorsement of the Regional, Rural and Remote Education review findings and recommendations is a milestone in recognising the differing needs of Australia’s regional, rural and remote students. We hope that this Review, and the Government’s response, establishes a platform upon which Australia can build to ensure that education fits the needs and purposes of non-metropolitan residents and communities. We warmly welcome this response,” said Dr Don Perlgut, CCA CEO.

"CCA would like to see a complete review of regional, rural and remote VET as the next stage in this process," said Dr Perlgut.

CCA’s recent research (February 2018) notes:

“Much of regional and rural Australia does not perform economically as well as capital cities, a perception that is widely shared among people who live there, who feel forgotten by governments, despite record Commonwealth investment. VET is an essential part of Australia’s regional economic development. Because of the economic and business structure of most regional and rural areas, VET is usually seen as more relevant to future careers, more actively undertaken (50% higher than in cities) and has a greater economic impact than in metropolitan areas…. In 2016, more than 72.4% of government-funded VET to community providers was spent outside of metro Sydney.” This far exceeded the regional, rural and remote percentages in NSW achieved by TAFE (34.9%) and for-profit providers (31.5%).

About the Review

The Review’s Terms of Reference and Discussion Paper and Literature Review all provide more information. Professor Halsey held consultations with education authorities, peak bodies, schools and communities, and received more than 300 submissions from stakeholders. The Review identified the issue arose of access to affordable accommodation for regional, rural and remote students relocating to pursue tertiary education. Urbis Pty Ltd was commissioned by the Australian Government Department of Education and Training to research the supply and affordability of tertiary student accommodation. Read the Regional Student Accommodation Assessment by Urbis. Read the Review’s Final Report here.

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