Policy Submissions

Submission to Inquiry on Education in Remote and Complex Environments

28 Feb 20

Download: Submission to Inquiry on ‘Education in Remote and
Complex Environments’

We believe that our joint recommendations will allow the Australian Government to truly put “regional and rural students at the centre of [their] focus” (Dan Tehan, 2020 Universities Australia Conference). Our submission particularly focuses on students in/from RRR communities, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, and regional university students. Our recommendations may be summarised as follows:

  1. That RTP or equivalent value stipends be made available to all HDR students
  2. That RTP PhD stipends be extended to a minimum of 4 years and Masters by Research stipends to no less than 2 years.
  3. That the minimum value of RTP stipends be increased to at least minimum wage.
  4. That Centrelink schemes be expanded to include domestic students of all postgraduate coursework degrees (subject to means testing).
  5. That, where not otherwise covered by an RTP or equivalent stipend (e.g., due to expiration of stipend), all full-time, domestic HDR students be eligible to access Centrelink schemes (subject to means testing).
  6. That the Relocation Scholarship, available to those moving to/from a regional/remote area for higher education study, be expanded to include all those receiving Austudy, domestic students of all postgraduate coursework degrees (subject to means testing), and all full-time, domestic HDR students.
  7. That the rate of Austudy, ABSTUDY, and Youth Allowance be urgently increased by $75 per week in order to help students afford housing.
  8. That the Commonwealth Government implements legislation requiring at least 50% of Student Services and Amenities Fees be received by independent student associations.
  9. That student concession fares be extended to all full-time students, including international and postgraduate students, in New South Wales and Victoria.
  10. That a national public transport concession scheme be implemented such that all tertiary students can access concession fares in all States.
  11. That the number of Medicare subsidised psychologist sessions available under mental health care plans be extended from a maximum of 10 to a maximum of 12, for all mental health conditions that are currently subject to the 10 session cap.
  12. That universities increase the number of available counselling sessions at campuses with long waiting lists, and make remote counselling available for off-campus students.
  13. That universities ensure availability of counsellors trained or experienced in working with LGBTQIA+ students, international students, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.
  14. That RRR universities continue to support ‘grow your own’ initiatives to develop Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander academics.
  15. That RRR universities fund Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers to conduct research on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues.
  16. That the Government extends Indigenous Student Success Program (ISSP) funding to HDR students.
  17. That universities provide four-year stipends of at least minimum wage for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctoral students.