Education Regional brain drain increasing

Regional brain drain increasing

Regional students across every Australian state and territory are turning to metropolitan universities at an unprecedented rate, an Australian-first study has revealed.

The study, led by La Trobe University researchers, Dr Buly Cardak and Matt Brett and Dr Mark Bowden of Swinburne University, shows the number of regional students across Australia moving to a city location to study increased by more than 76 per cent between 2008 and 2014.

“We found the growth in the number of regional students relocating to metropolitan universities far outstrips that of regional students taking up higher education places in either their home town or another regional location,” Associate Professor Cardak said.

“This growth was particularly strong with more flexible modes of study. We found mature aged students, students with disabilities, or those wanting to study part-time are increasingly turning to city campuses.

“However, regional students studying in regional locations are still a majority, and are attracted to a small number of larger regional centres.”

This study challenges the conventional view that the numbers of metropolitan students are growing at a higher rate than that of regional students. The researchers classified students based on their residential location when they started university, rather than their current home address.

The study showed that the number of regional students enrolling grew by almost 39 per cent between 2008 and 2014.

The report also indicated that regional students likely to face financial constraints are no less likely to attend university, and are instead displaying a greater likelihood of graduation.

“Our findings turn a lot of commonly held perceptions about regional students on their head, and is likely to have significant implications for the sector,” said Associate Professor Cardak.

National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education Director Professor Sue Trinidad said the report offers a new perspective on regional participation and paves the way for future discussion and policy advancements.

“The findings of this report are positive. It provides an evidence base for what is really happening with regional students accessing higher education. The issue now is the challenge of attracting graduates back to our regional areas, and the associated policy implications,” Professor Trinidad said.

Read more about the study’s findings here. Story credit: La Trobe University newsroom.

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