Greater community access to education and high quality research could be the outcome from the University of Newcastle’s upcoming application to the Education Investment Fund’s new Regional Priorities Round announced today by the Australian Government.
The $500 million Regional Priorities Round will enhance opportunities for people to gain access to quality teaching and learning in rural, regional and remote areas and Australia’s regional cities including Newcastle.
“The city of Newcastle’s inclusion in the Regional Round guidelines is acknowledgment of the characteristics of the Hunter population. The University of Newcastle is successful in providing opportunities for people from our regions to gain a higher education and we welcome this invitation to enhance those opportunities,” University Vice-Chancellor Professor Nick Saunders said.
A University analysis of Census data revealed the Newcastle/Hunter region is much more similar to the Central West of NSW than Sydney on measures such as types and level of employment, secondary and tertiary education levels, ethnicity, proportion of Indigenous population, lifestyle behaviours and health.
The proportion of the population who have completed year 12 in the Hunter (28.5 per cent) and Central West (27.6 per cent) is considerably lower than that of Sydney (42.1 per cent). This trend is reflected in the proportion of the population that hold a Bachelors Degree qualification or above, with 17.1 per cent of the population of the Hunter holding a degree or higher, compared to 16.4 per cent for the Central West and 27.6 per cent for Sydney.
“The University plays a pivotal role in increasing tertiary participation and retention in the region. The Hunter has a lower level of educational attainment and a higher level of disadvantage than in the capital cities of Australia, placing greater responsibilities on the University to help meet the needs of the regions it serves,” Professor Saunders said.
The Regional Priorities Round aims to give students, staff and researchers in regional Australia access to world-class teaching, training and research facilities.
“The Newcastle Institute for Energy and Resources (NIER), a national hub for energy research, is a perfect example of what can be achieved with the support of the Education Investment Fund. NIER was funded with the assistance of a $30 million Australian Government grant and is the first of its kind in Australia. It will aim to deliver solutions that contribute to the sustainability of resources and the environment.”
For interviews: Professor Nick Saunders through Carmen Swadling, Media and Public Relations Officer, on 02 4985 4276 or 0428 038477.