Community Colleges Australia (CCA) has welcomed the Commonwealth Government’s announcement of a regional education review that will address the key barriers and challenges impacting non-metropolitan students.
The review – announced last week by the Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce and the Minister for Education and Training, Simon Birmingham – follows CCA’s in-depth analysis of the role that community education plays in rural and regional Australia.
The Coalition Government will conduct a comprehensive review of regional education with the aim of getting more regional, rural and remote students to not just be successful at school but to go on to further study, training and employment.
“The Coalition Government’s independent comprehensive review into equity of education access for rural and regional students will seek fresh ideas and fresh thinking to bridge the divide,” Minister Joyce said.
“There’s a clear disparity between education in the bush and the city – this seeks to address the gap of achievement, aspiration and access to higher education faced by regional students. That’s why we are going out to the edges, to hear from our regional communities in order to find solutions to build the skills of regional Australians to allow our youth better jobs and better opportunities no matter where they live,” Minister Joyce said.
“Community Colleges Australia is extremely pleased that the Government has moved in this direction and commissioned the review,” said Dr Don Perlgut, CCA CEO.
“We are especially delighted that the regional, rural and remote education review will not separate the school, higher education and training sectors. Australian vocational education and training (VET) has too long been the poor ‘middle child’ of Australian education. We continue to be amazed that Australia has accepted the fact that two-thirds of Australian VET students are enrolled with private for-profit providers, while the number of ‘for-profit’ students in the higher education sector is less than five percent and the number in the schools sector is almost non-existent. This has a particular negative impact on regional Australian students,” Dr Perlgut said.
“For some time now, CCA has been monitoring the declining economic situation in rural and regional Australia,” Dr Perlgut said. “Aside from mining districts, very few regional areas see much if any growth, compared to the ‘gang-busters’ economic growth in Sydney and Melbourne.”
A discussion paper and online platform for public submissions will be available from April 2017. The review will be conducted by Professor John Halsey, who will present his final report and recommendations to the Government by the end of 2017.