Bendigo is among regional centres across Victoria earmarked for a boost in tertiary student accommodation as part of a Brumby Labor Government plan to support more opportunities for young people to live, study and work in regional Victoria.
In Bendigo today following the release of the Victorian Government’s $631 million blueprint for regional and rural Victoria, Premier John Brumby inspected plans being prepared by La Trobe University to increase the availability of affordable student accommodation at its Bendigo campus.
Mr Brumby said regional universities were part of a new $103.6 million training package focusing on supporting young people to study and work in regional Victoria, through more university and TAFE courses, more accommodation, cadetships and new higher education targets.
The $631 million Ready for Tomorrow: A Blueprint for Regional and Rural Victoria sets a new target that by 2025 regional Victoria should achieve at least a 10 percentage point increase in the proportion of people between the ages of 25 and 34, who attain a bachelor degree qualification.
It also sets a new target to achieve at least a five percentage point increase in the proportion of higher education undergraduate enrolments of people from a low socio economic status (SES) from regional Victoria by 2020.
“Our Government wants to drive new and greater opportunities for young people to study locally, work locally and live locally,” Mr Brumby said.
“These new targets will mean 22,200 more young people will obtain degree qualifications in our regions which will mean more opportunities and more jobs for young people and create a more highly-skilled workforce for regional businesses.
“Young people today have greater access to tertiary education opportunities in our regions than ever before, but we understand that there need to be incentives to encourage young people to choose to study and work in regional Victoria.
“That’s why we will deliver support to tertiary education providers, including for the first time ever providing a dedicated infrastructure fund to boost student accommodation beds levels by 700 across the cities of Ballarat, Bendigo and the Latrobe Valley.
“This package will also deliver new cadetships and investment to make it easier for young people in remote areas to travel to and from a tertiary institution.”
The Ready for Tomorrow $103.6 million Tertiary Education Opportunities package includes:
Tertiary Education Infrastructure Fund: $75 million, dedicated through the Regional Infrastructure Development Fund to help improve and build new TAFE and university infrastructure, such as student accommodation, designed to provide a local tertiary education choice for regional students. It includes $2.5 million towards a development of and International Centre of Excellence in water management and farming efficiency – a partnership between the University of Melbourne’s Dookie Campus and Colorado State University;
- Regional Tertiary Education Partnerships: $9 million to encourage universities and TAFEs to work together to deliver more tertiary courses in more regional locations through new models of collaboration between education providers;
- $7.1 million to improve transport from smaller rural communities to universities and TAFEs. This initiative will support young people through a range of innovative transport solutions which will be developed in partnership with local communities, employers and education providers; and
- Young Professionals Provincial Cadetships: $12.5 million to help support 1,500 regional students undertake a work-based cadetship in regional Victoria, in a field related to their study, during the semester break.
Ms Allan said young people were the lifeblood of Victoria’s regions and the Victorian Government was taking action to secure a future for them in regional Victoria.
“We want our young people to remain with their families, friends and social networks while having access to world-class tertiary education and exciting job opportunities which they may in the past have had to travel to Melbourne or other regions to pursue,” Ms Allan said.
“When we spoke to people in regional communities they told us they were concerned about young people leaving to pursue career or study options and what it meant for the future prosperity of their communities.
“By improving TAFE and university access and infrastructure, providing a wider variety of university and TAFE courses, and creating careers and leadership opportunities, we can provide more choices for young people to study in regional Victoria.”
Ready for Tomorrow commits $631 million across five key strategies:
- $110.1 million for Investing in Skills and Young People with a new tertiary education package to deliver more opportunities in tertiary education for young people and to make it more attractive for them to stay in or return to the regions. It includes new targets to increase enrolments and graduates, new infrastructure support to encourage investment in student accommodation and for TAFE and university facilities, leadership and cadetship programs, a new youth strategy and support to develop new regional leaders;
- Backing Jobs and Industry with $99.4 million towards a new action plan to create thousands of new jobs, boost regional industries and help small business. It outlines a commitment to grow government jobs in the state’s regions, drive up skills, training and exports, support farmers, the food and beverage industry and tourism growth;
- $203.9 million for Building Infrastructure, Connecting Communities to provide regional Victorians with world-class infrastructure in water, cleaner energy, transport and industry development, improvements to broadband services, local roads, timber roads, bridges, bus service expansion as well as more affordable housing;
- $158.4 million for Supporting the Regional and Rural Way of Life with funding for sports clubs, cultural activities and community. It includes infrastructure and amenities support for the well-being of older people in small communities, promoting regional Victoria as a great place to live and work, a boost to programs to help landholders manage vegetation with funding available for building performing arts centres, galleries and other civic amenities; and
Planning Better Regions – A New Partnership backed by $58.9 million to establish a new approach to regional planning and development including significant funding to support the planning and design of regional cities and towns, support for the development of new growth areas in regional cities, support for future planning in coastal areas and local government. It also includes grants to local councils for future planning work and expertise within local councils, fast-tracking projects to help local communities adapt to climate change and support for smaller councils.
The Government also today announced $1.9 million from the Regional Infrastructure Development Fund to extend the O’Keefe Rail Trail from Axedale through to Heathcote.
Ms Allan said the 24 kilometre extension would enhance and complement the existing tourism infrastructure and create jobs.
“It will create a significant cycling and walking experience to attract lucrative tourism to the region that will be of great benefit to food wine and hospitality businesses in the region,” she said.
“This boost will facilitate growth in jobs and skills training opportunities, create facilities benefitting locals and visitors, and increase community cohesiveness and pride.”