McGowan: Bill lacks any focus on country areas
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.