25 August 2020
The Minister for Decentralisation and Regional Education and member of The Nationals, Andrew Gee MP welcomed the endorsement of the Jobs-ready Graduates Package by the Coalition joint party room.
“The Jobs-ready Graduates Package includes significant amendments advocated for by The Nationals to deliver lasting benefits for country students, country universities, and country communities”, Minister Gee said.
“The Job-ready Graduates Package will provide an additional $400 million to increase opportunities for regional, rural and remote students to get a world-class education and support regional university campuses.
“Country universities have made it clear that the Package provides certainty and stability for the education sector and offers a unique opportunity for the Parliament to deliver lasting benefits for regional Australia.
“These amendments have been adopted by working with Minister Tehan and regional universities to address the three areas of concern; grandfathering, funding of social work, mental health and psychology, and the Tertiary Access Payment.
Successful amendments to the Job-Ready Graduates Package pushed for by The Nationals, and supported by country universities at the Regional Universities Roundtables include:
Social work, mental health and psychology
The Job-Ready Graduates Package funding clusters will be amended to align social work and other mental health disciplines with allied health in the Commonwealth Grant Scheme (CGS) funding cluster 2.
This will provide students with a professional pathway that allows them to pursue studies in areas of critical need for country communities.
Tertiary Access Payment (TAP)
The Tertiary Access Payment will now be paid directly to universities to then be provided to regional and remote students through scholarships.
This change will level the playing field for our country universities and allow them to attract new students through scholarship incentives.
The Department of Education, Skills and Employment will not proceed with the initial grandfathering date of 1 January 2024.
This change will make it easier for Australians balancing work and family commitments to upskill and be ‘job-ready’. It also means that students currently studying online or part-time won’t be caught out by potential fee structure changes in 2024.
“The Nationals believe these changes will help bridge the gap between country communities and the cities, including the divide in educational attainment and access to services, especially mental health.
“The successful amendments, which were supported by country universities at the Regional Universities Roundtables, demonstrate in a very tangible way that we’re backing our country universities.
“An additional $400 million is a big win for the bush.
“These comprehensive tertiary education reforms will generate new growth places, demand driven funding for Indigenous students and an expansion of the Regional University Centres initiative.
“Country universities are vitally important anchors in our communities, driving economic growth, job creation and regional development. Simply put, they are the training grounds for our future country workforce.
“Our country communities have been hit hard by drought, bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic and the effects have been devastating. Providing a lower cost pathway for social work and psychology will mean that there will be more vital health professionals to support the recovery of rural and regional Australia.
“The changes to the Tertiary Access Payment mean that country universities are able to better compete on a more level playing field with their city counterparts to attract country students, while uncapped Grandfathering means that country students studying part-time can now rest easy with funding certainty.
“Bridging the great divide between the city and the country is vitally important work of this Parliament – these reforms and amendments aim to do just that.
“Australia’s country universities have said that they support this package and it’s now up to all MPs to back them in and pass it through the Parliament.”
The Job-ready Graduates legislation is expected to be introduced into the Parliament on Wednesday.
For more information, interviews or images please contact Gabi Phipps via Gabrielle.Phipps@dfat.gov.au