Regional Students

  • There is a significant differential in higher education attainment between city and regional Australians. In 2011, 31% of people aged 25-64 who lived in major cities held a Bachelor degree or above. This figure declined to 18% for Australians living in inner regional areas, to 15% for outer regional areas and down to 12% for very remote areas.
  • Parents in regional Australia have relatively lower expectations for their children’s future education attainment than those living in major cities and young people in regional Australia continue to be less likely to aspire to a higher education.
  • Students who go to university in regional areas tend to remain in regional areas after graduation, providing a ready supply of professionals to fill critical regional skill needs.
  • Students who leave regional areas to study in an urban institution are unlikely to return.
  • Regional universities represent the only choice for many regional students who do not have the mobility to study elsewhere.  Regional higher education students are twice as likely as students at urban institutions to be caring for dependents. They are also likely to be older than their urban peers and more likely to be female, Indigenous and/or from a low socioeconomic background.
  • Many regional universities are major providers of distance education, enabling regional students to access higher education while remaining in their communities.

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Fact or research finding Reference
Regional students

Regional universities represent the only choice for many regional students who do not have the mobility to study elsewhere.

  • Students at regional higher education institutions are twice as likely as students at urban institutions to be caring for dependents. They are also likely to be older than their urban peers and more likely to be female, Indigenous and from a low socioeconomic background.
  • Many regional students are turned away from acquiring a higher education when their only choice is to move to the city: the higher costs of living and the separation from networks of family and friends are major factors.

ACER (2011) ‘Higher education & community benefits: The role of regional provision’, Joining the Dots, Research Briefing, Vol 1, No. 5, September 2011.


Lewis et al., 2007 as referenced in ACER (2011)

Many regional universities are major providers of distance education, enabling regional students to access higher education while remaining in their communities.

In 2012, RUN universities enrolled more than 44,700 domestic students on an external basis, and more than 55,400 on an external or multi-modal basis.

Students who study in regional areas tend to remain in regional areas after graduation and provide a ready supply of professionals to fill critical regional roles

  • Five years after completing their course, 66% of graduates from regional higher education institutions remain in regional areas for employment
  • Those most likely to remain in regional areas are individuals with longstanding regional connections
  • Those remaining in regional areas are employed across the full range of industry sectors, with the highest percentages employed in education, and health and community services
ACER (2011)
Students who leave regional areas to study in an urban institution are unlikely to return
  • 74% of regional students remain in cities after graduation
Hillman and Rothman (2007) referenced in ACER (2011)