The handing down of the Napthine Report (formally known as the National Regional, Rural and Remote Tertiary Education Strategy) last week brought a welcome affirmation (in broad strokes) of the innovative developments occuring through the Centre for the Future of Schooling at AC, particularly in the development of the Hub approach to teacher training. As Chris Ronan, of the APPS Policy Forum noted,
In the last decade, policy initiatives have focused on encouraging RRR high school students to attend university, and have been increasing accessibility through mechanisms like the Demand Driven Funding System. These policies have largely been successful in getting students into higher education, but have ultimately failed to ensure that RRR students stay in university and complete their degrees. (Ronan, Reimagining retention for rural, regional, and remote www.policyforum.net/reimagining-retention-for-rural-regional-and-remote-students/students, APPS)
Worse, even when they do finish their courses, the funding models underpinning teacher education effectively reinforce the brain drain towards the cities.
The Regional Education Expert Advisory Group recommended, inter alia, that the government seek to 'Improve access to tertiary study options for students in RRR areas by:
providing demand-driven funding for university places in regional areas
exploring new higher education offerings focused on professional skills development
expanding access to Regional Study Hubs
addressing problems with student access to affordable, reliable, high speed internet services, and
improving access to high quality VET programs in RRR areas.
Each of these elements are functional parts of, or point to the need for, a Hub-based model. The impact on training on country for country is an essential element of building sustainablility for RRR settings. Whilever government continues to fund large 'retail' programs which pull students out of the communities, and do not create investment in RRR communities, the additional funding announcements (e.g. the $42 million announced by the Victorian government last week) will continue to just prop up an unsustainable system by rewarding ineffective behaviours.
CFS researchers and staff contribute regularly to the FSB. The aim is to keep you in the loop as to the range of our activities, perhaps suggesting points of common interest.