Having a local university adds up to more benefits for regional areas.
Having a local university adds up to more benefits for regional areas. Warren Lynam

How our unis are driving the local economy

REGIONAL universities are powering local economies across the nation.

A new study has revealed seven in ten regional university graduates work outside of metropolitan areas.

It found universities spent $1.59 billion a year and students spent $480 million in regional areas with campuses.

The report was prepared for the Regional University Network by the Centre for Policy Studies and Nous Pty Ltd.



RUN chair Greg Hill said the study showed how important a local university was to a community.

"Regional universities keep graduates in the regions and employ highly skilled staff. Over 18,300 skilled graduates from our universities work in the regions across a range of disciplines including health and education, engineering, agriculture and environmental studies," he said.

"Increasing the skills levels of employees in regional Australia helps overcome skills shortages, protects regional areas from structural adjustment as the economy shifts to tertiary industries and encourages population growth by increasing the diversity of jobs."

"Providing more opportunities and courses for regional students to study in the regions will grow regional economies."

The research comes as a report from professional services firm Ernst & Young outlines four potential futures for Australia's tertiary education industry.

Those ranged from governments "championing" the university industry, through to massive disruption and virtual learning environments.

The EY report found a hands-off government approach to uni funding was the "likely case". Under that scenario - essentially the current model - more universities have "specialised" to play to their specific strengths.

"Our goal was not to predict the future but to offer multiple plausible 'tomorrows' to stress-test new policies, strategies and plans," the report said.

"Policymakers cannot allow a period of slow evolution to leave our sector and learners behind. Policymakers should consider incentives for greater collaboration between universities and industry.

"The only way to preserve the proud traditions of our universities is to transform them." -NewsRegional