Recommendations for rural students

The Isolated Children’s Parents’ Association (ICPA) is hailing the Australian Universities Accord Panel’s Final Report as a watershed moment for rural and remote students across the country.

A number of key recommendations from the report aim to address persistent challenges faced by families living in rural and remote Australia.

In November 2022, the Australian Universities Accord Panel was commissioned by the Federal Government to conduct a review into Australia’s higher education system, with its final report detailing 47 recommendations to help deliver a higher education system to meet the current and future needs of the nation.

Tertiary Education Portfolio lead with ICPA, Kate Thompson, said the report is a pivotal moment in Australian education reform, with the potential to create equitable higher education opportunities for all rural and remote students.

“After being closely involved in the consultation process for this report, we are pleased to see a number of key recommendations, particularly around access to tertiary education for rural and remote students, financial support, and changes to the HELP loan system,” Ms Thompson said.

“We believe many of these recommendations can be implemented quickly and effectively by the Federal Government and will make an immediate difference to students and their families.”

The report highlighted the under-representation of regional, rural, and remote tertiary education, with recommendations to expand the Regional University Study Hubs program, as well as calls for a needs-based funding model that took into account the cost of higher education delivery in rural and remote Australia.

Changes to the Tertiary Access Payment (TAP) were also recommended, including the removal of the 12-month commencement requirement, which directly addresses the cost challenges faced by students relocating for tertiary study.

The report also calls for an increase to the Parental Income Free Area for Youth Allowance as well as an expansion to the income support eligibility for part-time students.