A BOLD plan outlining the path to creating thousands of jobs and delivering improved returns for the Federal Government's investments in regional communities has been released by Southern Cross University today.
The university has called on politicians from all parties to join in support of the New Regional Deal.
It proposes to deliver "transformational change to the lives of thousands of Australians" through new levels of access to higher education.
SCU Vice-Chancellor, Professor Adam Shoemaker, presented the New Regional Deal to the Federal Government's Independent Review into Regional, Rural and Remote Education yesterday, in preparation for today's public launch.
"Australia needs innovative ideas and a smart workforce to create new industries that capitalise on the emerging new generational agricultural boom in Asia - offering huge opportunities to regional Australians," he said.
"In our regions, companies are setting up multi-million dollar enterprises in medicinal plant production and organics, but struggling to find the right workforce.
"At the same time, regional Australians have lower employment rates, lower income levels and poorer health outcomes than people in our capital cities.
"The New Regional Deal offers to bridge the divide, accelerate the progression of thousands of regional Australians into higher education and create a workforce for the future.
The New Regional Deal calls on all politicians to support:
- Guaranteed Regional Pathways: Allocation of 10,000 CGS-supported places in regional enabling courses, distributed according to regional need and demand - providing pathways to higher education for students with talent and ambition who are currently unprepared to begin a degree
- Increased Quantum of University Places: A commitment of $50 million per year for four years to address the chronic underfunding of regional campuses, in recognition of the higher operational costs in regional areas
- Revised Regional Funding Formula: An improved regional loading formula to provide certainty of allocation to regional university campuses in recognition of the higher costs of regional delivery.
"We know there are thousands of talented, highly capable students in regional Australia who don't have the qualifications or sometimes the confidence to get straight into university," Prof Shoemaker said.
"They may have left school early, or have had to skip university for family reasons but by studying at their local campus, they can unlock tremendous potential.
"This proposal offers a rare opportunity to lower spending on a lifetime of welfare provision, help unemployed regional people into jobs, and create a valued regional workforce capable of building stronger regional communities.
"There can be few better ways to invest Australian taxpayer dollars than delivering a New Regional Deal that will benefit all Australians."
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