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Support needed for regional students at city universities

A University of Melbourne report has called for financial and travel assistance for regional students who study at Melbourne universities.

JENNA BISHOP August 20, 2014 3:18am

Former McGuire College student Jason Archer agrees with a call for more financial support for regional students moving to the city to study.


 

A new report has called for more support for rural and regional students to help them overcome significant barriers to accessing higher education in metropolitan areas.

The University of Melbourne’s Deferring a University Offer in Victoria report says financial and travel-related factors are two of the biggest barriers for regional and rural students.

‘‘Many struggle to make the social transition after leaving home,’’ the report stated.

It said the proportion of regional and rural students who completed Year 12 and continued to study in Melbourne was substantially lower than for students from Melbourne.

Former McGuire College student Jason Archer agreed more support was needed for rural students hoping to move to the city to study.

Mr Archer completed Year 12 in 2012 and moved to Melbourne last year to major in mathematical physics at University of Melbourne.

‘‘Since HECS only covers course fees, the costs of living while studying can be overwhelming for many, especially in comparison to the financial situation of their city-based counterparts who are able to remain at home,’’ he said.

‘‘This creates a bit of a difficult situation where many students are forced to balance directing their full attention to their studies and working part-time or even full-time to sustain themselves, all while away from the support of their parents.’’

The report also said government financial assistance was essential for many students to take up a university offer.

Mr Archer said he would like to see more financial assistance targeted specifically at regional students studying in a metropolitan environment.

‘‘Additionally, I think more flexible options for students who wish to remain in Shepparton to study, be it through distance education or at La Trobe’s local campus, would go a long way towards helping young people pursue a career they are passionate about,’’ he said.

Mr Archer said while he was fortunate to have financial support from his family and the help of government grants, he still lived frugally and spent university holidays working.

He said many students had to spend tens of thousands of dollars during the course of a degree to enter their desired field, funds city-dwelling students would be able to save.

‘‘This creates an unnecessary barrier between regional students and tertiary education that I would love to see broken down for all of Shepparton’s aspiring university students,’’ he said.

Report co-author Professor John Polesel said factors such as money, university location, travelling long distances to get to their course and a desire to stay at home were more likely to affect non-metropolitan students.

‘‘We have a good rural university system, but the course offering is limited and therefore more rural and regional students have to relocate,’’ he said.

The report was presented to Victorian Higher Education and Skills Minister Nick Wakeling on Thursday last week.

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