Will study hubs address university access and retention issues?

Claire Halliday
Claire Halliday
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The Albanese government will spend $67 million to double the current number of study hubs – establishing 14 new suburban and 20 new regional ones.

And with an interim review of universities revealing that, although almost 45 per cent of Australians aged 25 to 34 have a university degree, the proportion of those with degrees drops the further you get from the inner-city campuses, many experts believe it will be money well spent.

In New South Wales’ Hawkesbury area, at the edge of northern Sydney, only 15 per cent of young people have a degree. In Melbourne’s south-east fringe, Cardinia, that figure is 19 per cent.

The reviews suggests setting up local study hubs for students in the outer suburbs of Australia’s capital cities could help. The study hubs would offer computer access, internet and study spaces, with in-person academic and administrative support for local students, regardless of which university they attend.

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In regional locations across Australia, there are already 34 in operation. According to the expert report, they should be expanded, with evidence showing improved student participation, retention and completion rates – especially among students from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds.

Access to quality tertiary education is important

Federal Education Minister Jason Clare said more young people from the outer suburbs and regions should go to university to meet the scrutiny of the contemporary employment market.

“More and more jobs require a university degree. That means we will need more people with university qualifications in the years ahead,” he said.

“This can’t just be people that live within 10km of the CBD. It also means more Australians from the outer suburbs and the regions getting that chance… and that means bringing university closer to them.”

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Improving access to university for students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds – including rural and regional students – has become a key priority for the government as it prepares for what is described as the higher education sector’s biggest overhaul in more than ten years.

The full and final report is expected later this year.

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Claire Halliday has an extensive career as a full-time writer - across book publishing, copywriting, podcasting and feature journalism - for more than 25 years. She lives in Melbourne with children, two border collies and a grumpy Burmese cat. Contact: claire.halliday[at]brandx.live