La Trobe Vice-Chancellor Professor John Dewar said the Inspired Futures Initiative would target the stark difference between the number of people in regional areas who have a university degree compared with those living in Melbourne.
"ABS data shows only half the number of regional Victorians have a university education compared to their city counterparts. We know there are unique challenges for regional Victorians that stop them from going to University and we want to help combat those issues," Professor Dewar said.
"We've developed a package of measures which we hope will help encourage a group of regional Victorians who have already left school at year 12 or earlier to go to back to the classroom and study at La Trobe University next year.
"We know that the cost of study is a huge factor and right now mature age students just don't know the impact potential university deregulation will have on fees in 2016 when changes could take effect.
"Our solution is to remove that uncertainly and offer a limited number of mature age students our La Trobe Fee Guarantee, which means these students will not pay more than 10 per cent above the regulated fee in any year. The guarantee will apply for the normal duration of their full-time degree."
Professor Dewar said other features under the Inspired Futures initiative included:
- Tailored career counselling – to help mature age students plan long term career goals and changes
- Mentoring from current mature age students to help with University life, study and exam tips
- Special university events
"We want to encourage mature age students from regional Victoria to enrol for study in 2015 and we want them to study with us at our regional campuses, as university study opens doors to new career opportunities, challenges and responsibilities.
ABS data shows while about 40 per cent of Melburnians aged 25 to 39 have a university education, the number is only 21 per cent for those living in regional areas.
The data also shows people living in country Victoria who have a university qualification are almost twice as likely to have a job that earns more than $52,000 a year.
To qualify for the Inspired Futures Initiative, students must be 21 years or older, have lived in a regional centre for at least one year and must study at one of La Trobe's four regional campuses. The fee guarantee will be limited to the first 500 students who apply, but every mature age student will receive the additional Inspired Futures benefits.
The La Trobe Fee Guarantee has also been offered under the Aspire Program to a group of young community leaders currently studying Year 12.
For more information visit the Inspired Futures website.