Help­ing to solve many ru­ral is­sues

Whitsunday Times - - NEWS - Ge­off Egan

IT IS grad­u­ates from re­gional unis who are solv­ing many of the prob­lems fac­ing ru­ral and re­gional ar­eas of Aus­tralia.

Re­gional grad­u­ates are disas­ter-proof­ing cities, re­ha­bil­i­tat­ing drug ad­dicts and sav­ing lives.

Re­search from the Re­gional Uni­ver­si­ties Net­work shows seven out of 10 grad­u­ates of re­gional uni­ver­si­ties go on to work in jobs out­side metropoli­tan ar­eas.

RUN ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Caro­line Perkins said jobs in re­gional ar­eas in­creas­ingly needed a ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion.

She said over­whelm­ingly that work­force was be­ing filled with grad­u­ates from lo­cal uni­ver­si­ties.

“In re­gions it is not just about sup­ply­ing work­ers for in­creas­ingly high-tech jobs, but about hav­ing enough pro­fes­sion­als, like teach­ers, doc­tors and en­gi­neers, to work in re­gional com­mu­ni­ties,” she said.

Sim­i­larly, the Re­gional Aus­tralia In­sti­tute said dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy and au­to­ma­tion was in­creas­ingly im­por­tant to re­gional economies.

The RAI’s 2017-18 an­nual re­port said Aus­tralia’s “re­gional work­force is chang­ing with a surge in the use of dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies and au­to­ma­tion”.

Dr Perkins said their re­search showed re­gion­ally-based uni­ver­si­ties con­trib­uted $1.7bil­lion to the Aus­tralian econ­omy and drove re­gional growth.

“Very sim­ply, if you want to grow re­gional economies - as pro­fes­sion­als are - you need to be in­vest­ing in re­gional uni­ver­si­ties,” she said.

“We need to see re­gional uni­ver­si­ties and higher ed­u­ca­tion as be­ing part of a broad strat­egy of re­gional de­vel­op­ment.”

Dr Perkins said the RUN re­search found that a per­son with a bach­e­lor’s de­gree could ex­pect to be paid 34 per cent more than the av­er­age wage. RUN will host a con­fer­ence on the Gold Coast later this month to high­light how the uni­ver­si­ties are “trans­form­ing their re­gions”.

RUN rep­re­sents re­gional uni­ver­si­ties across Aus­tralia in­clud­ing Univer­sity of South­ern Queens­land, Cen­tral Queens­land Univer­sity, Univer­sity of Sun­shine Coast and South­ern Cross Univer­sity.

“If you want to grow re­gional economies - you need to be in­vest­ing in re­gional uni­ver­si­ties.” — Caro­line Perkins

PHOTO: MICHELLE GATELY

MAK­ING A DIF­FER­ENCE: CQUniver­sity grad­u­ates like Kevin Cook play a vi­tal role in re­gional Aus­tralia.

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