Pathways Program opens doors for regional students

A successful La Trobe University program will continue its mission to bridge the higher education gap between Greater Melbourne and regional Victoria after funding was secured to expand further into the state.

The existing Albury-Wodonga and Bradford Shepparton Pathways Programs aim to raise aspirations and increase educational engagement in further and higher education for senior school students in partner schools. The program provides academic and learning support, including a mentor program with local La Trobe University students.

Mildura will now benefit from the Pathways Program following a generous donation by the McCall MacBain Foundation.

Half of this contribution will support the Mildura program over the next three years, while the remaining funds will establish a scholarship program for graduates across the Pathways Program who show leadership potential and a commitment to give back to their local communities.

La Trobe University Chancellor, the Honourable John Brumby AO, said the Mildura expansion is critical as the regional centre records the lowest attainment across the University’s four regional campuses.

“The Pathways Program has made a positive impact in Albury-Wodonga and Shepparton, with 70 per cent of students who’ve completed the La Trobe Pathway beginning their transition to higher education,” Mr Brumby said.

“We must rise to this mission critical challenge of increasing opportunities for higher education support and resources to help disadvantaged regional secondary school students achieve a university offer.”

Latest statistics reveal just 12.4 per cent of people aged 19 to 21 attend university or higher education in Mildura, a stark contrast to 50 per cent in Greater Melbourne.

Mr Brumby warned that if participation rates are not lifted, new jobs and related opportunities will be lost to other regions.

“With the National Skills Commission forecasting that more than two in every three new jobs over the next five years will require a university qualification, it’s vital we work together to substantially lift university participation in the Mildura region,” Mr Brumby said.

The Chancellor led a round table discussion on Thursday, 23 November, with industry leaders across various sectors, including councils, businesses, schools, and government agencies.

The discussion focused on broader conversations about what the community and economy need for graduates of the future and what they see as the barriers to higher educational attainment.


Participation and completion rates for Albury-Wodonga and Bradford Shepparton Pathways programs

  • Since 2019, 331 Albury-Wodonga students and 277 Shepparton students have completed the program.
  • Data from the 2022 programs shows 71 per cent of Albury-Wodonga students in the program are on track to attend university, as were 66 percent of Shepparton participants.
  • Census data shows that in 2021, 485 of 3791 (12.9 per cent) Albury-Wodonga catchment residents aged 19 to 21 attended university or other higher education, not including TAFE or private training providers.
  • In the Shepparton catchment 633 of 4162 (15.2 per cent) of residents aged 19 to 21 attended university or other higher education, not including TAFE or private training providers.
  • Comparable data sourced from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows 50 percent of 19 to 21-year olds in 2021 in Greater Melbourne were attending university or other higher education.

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