McGowan: Bill lacks any fo­cus on coun­try ar­eas

Wangaratta Chronicle - - News - BY STEVE KELLY

FO­CUS­ING on the value re­gional uni­ver­si­ties play in en­cour­ag­ing young peo­ple to train and work in coun­try ar­eas is at the fore­front of Cathy McGowan’s stance against a new ed­u­ca­tion Bill.

Lack of op­por­tu­nity for re­gional stu­dents and uni­ver­si­ties is likely to be a key stick­ing point when the Higher Ed­u­ca­tion Sup­port Leg­is­la­tion Amend­ment Bill goes to the Se­nate fol­low­ing its pass­ing in the lower house on Wed­nes­day night.

Ms McGowan (MHR, Indi) voted against the Bill in its cur­rent state and she un­der­stands that La­bor, the Greens and Nick Xenophon par­ties are against it in the Se­nate.

She said the Bill needs to recog­nise the role of uni­ver­si­ties in the coun­try in that they em­ploy and train peo­ple who live and work lo­cally.

In ac­knowl­edge­ment of the work Re­gional Uni­ver­si­ties Net­work, La Trobe and Charles Sturt uni­ver­si­ties do, Ms McGowan said the pro­posal for a na­tional re­gional ed­u­ca­tion strat­egy had the over­whelm­ing sup­port of the higher ed­u­ca­tion sec­tor.

“Peo­ple in the re­gions un­der- stand the vi­tal role uni­ver­si­ties play in driv­ing the eco­nomic, so­cial and cul­tural value of their com­mu­ni­ties,” Ms McGowan said.

“They are a driver of eco­nomic growth and de­vel­op­ment, key em­ploy­ers, and a ma­jor at­trac­tor to young peo­ple, and they can make the dif­fer­ence be­tween eco­nomic sur­vival and go­ing back­wards.

“At $21.6 mil­lion over the pe­riod to 2021, adopt­ing this amend­ment would be a rel­a­tively small in­vest­ment with an enor­mous ben­e­fit for the re­gions.”

An­other part of Ms McGowan’s con­cerns re­late to the two per cent ef­fi­ciency div­i­dend in that fi­nan­cially it will hit re­gion­ally based unis harder than large city-based ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tu­tions.

She sug­gested that an al­ter­na­tive would be to fac­tor in a vari­a­tion of this div­i­dend for re­gional uni­ver­si­ties so it doesn’t im­pact their bottom line as much.

“This leg­is­la­tion as it stands is not a good deal for re­gional uni­ver­si­ties and stu­dents and I do not sup­port it,” Ms McGowan said.

“There is still time for rep­re­sen­ta­tives of re­gional elec­torates to lis­ten and act for their com­mu­ni­ties as the leg­is­la­tion passes through the Se­nate.”

Ms McGowan said she would con­tinue to rep­re­sent the con­cerns of the peo­ple of Indi.

skelly@ ne­me­

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