Regional funding will boost opportunity

La Trobe University has welcomed a Federal Labor Party commitment of specialised funding to improve the opportunities for university study in regional Australia and other areas of low education attainment.

University Vice-Chancellor, Professor John Dewar, said universities like La Trobe that serviced regional communities had been the hardest hit by the current freeze on university funding – where the enrolments and completions were already well below capital city levels.

“La Trobe University has repeatedly called for a national plan to boost participation and attainment in regional areas to grow jobs, innovation and investment in local communities. This is an encouraging signal that our message is beginning to be heard,” Professor Dewar said.

“Equity and excellence have always been a La Trobe hallmark and we are doing what we can to develop strategies to improving access and achievement for under-represented groups in communities we serve.

“Our HEPPP-funded School Partnerships Program, referred to by Labor, has led to a 38 per cent increase in enrolments, with students from 32 low SES schools now aspiring to go to university.

“This is just one of many La Trobe initiatives. Since 2017, in Albury-Wodonga, we have successfully piloted a Year 11 Pathways program aiming to increase aspiration and retention from Year 11 through to study at La Trobe University. The progam has a focus on literacy, underpinned by mentoring, well-being and capacity building, and has also led to significant increases in enrolments.

“With four campuses outside of metropolitan Melbourne – in Bendigo, Albury-Wodonga, Shepparton and Mildura – La Trobe is constantly seeking ways of expanding access to a quality higher education in regional Victoria including through sector-leading TAFE partnerships. These partnerships also include working closely with Chisholm Institute in south-east Melbourne to provide pathways and direct access to La Trobe degrees on Chisholm campuses in metropolitan areas with low participation such as Frankston.

“We look forward to seeing more detail from Federal Labor and working with them on their plans to deliver more opportunities for people so they can realise the benefits of a university education.”

Media contact: Tim Mitchell – 0437457780 / t.mitchell@latrobe.edu.au

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