University of Queensland’s St Lucia campus
University of Queensland’s St Lucia campus

New hope for our lowest-educated area

LABOR will today announce a $175 million cash splash to encourage students from disadvantaged and rural areas to get into university.

The plan will be announced in Caboolture, which has the lowest rates of young people with university education in the country - with just 13 per cent of people aged 25-34 with a bachelor's degree or higher.

In comparison, 63.1 per cent of young people in Sydney's North Shore and over half in Brisbane's inner city have a university education, according to Universities Australia data.

News Queensland's regional papers campaigned heavily for more funding in this area last year. 

READFair Go for our Kids: Let's end the heart-breaking cycle

Data analysis found every year about 30,000 regional Queensland students did not finish high school.

Experts said this barely believable figure was the main reason regions are slipping further behind Brisbane in the livability stakes.

In Brisbane, 81 per cent of students get to the end of Year 12.

Australian Bureau of Statistics data showed no regional city got to 70 per cent completion and several towns barely registered a 50 per cent completion rate.

Torrens University's Social Atlas of Australia showed 46 per cent of Brisbane 17-year-olds were enrolled in higher education.

In regional cities that number is between 20 per cent and 33 per cent.

Just 32 per cent of Sunshine Coast school leavers were going to university.

That number dropped below 25 per cent in Townsville, Ipswich and Toowoomba and below 20 per cent in the Fraser Coast and Warwick.

Opposition education spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek said the plan, under a Labor government, would deliver money to develop and implement programs to encourage young people to study at university.

"Labor believes it should be your ability, not your bank balance, that determines whether you get the chance to study at uni," she said.

"We want to support students who are first-generation in their family to go to uni.


Opposition education spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek has pitched Labor’s vision for tertiary education. Picture: Stefan Postles/AAP
Opposition education spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek has pitched Labor’s vision for tertiary education. Picture: Stefan Postles/AAP


"We want our unis to attract more students from our outer suburbs and the country, more indigenous students, and more students with a disability."

READHow our kids are falling behind students in city

The programs will be tailored to specific groups and geographic areas in consultation with universities, TAFEs, not-for-profit groups and community organisations.

Examples include universities partnering with disadvantaged high schools to encourage enrolment, and peer study groups where third and fourth-year university students tutor first-year students in a bid to reduce drop out rates.

It follows an earlier Labor pledge to end the two-year funding freeze for universities implemented by the Federal Government.