Regional unis under threat

The right of access to appropriate education opportunity is a cornerstone of our democratic system. Unfortunately it is under threat by the Rudd government.

Federal Labor is reviewing the allocation of some $31 million in funding available to regional universities. It is doing so to develop ‘a new, more logical basis for funding’ of regional universities. Anyone who believes this will not result in cutbacks to education services in rural and regional areas is either naive or exceptionally optimistic.

One of the core tasks of the review is to examine co-location of university and TAFE institutes as well as possible rationalisation of management and administration functions. This, of course, is shorthand for centralisation – always a favourite with Labor administrations – and it means inevitable job losses in areas that need them most.

At a time when regional participation in university education is declining (down 1.2 per cent in absolute terms over the past eight years) this is a shameful and callous exercise by Rudd & Co. Another damning statistic is that while higher education participation rates for young people have risen substantially in metropolitan areas, rural and regional districts lag at an unacceptable rate. In cities, the participation rate is 35 per cent compared with a measly 21 per cent outside the major centres.

The time to register concern is now or it will be too late.