SOUTH-west students are deferring their university courses at twice the rate of the rest of Victoria.
The latest On Track data shows 18.8 per cent of south-west students who finished year 12 last year deferred their courses, compared to 9.4 per cent statewide.
The On Track statistics coincide with a new report which calls for students in regional areas to receive more financial, social and accommodation support to overcome barriers in accessing higher education.
The Deferring a University Offer in Victoria was presented yesterday to the Minister for Higher Education and Skills, Nick Wakeling and is based on longitudinal research by John Polesel, Malgorzata Klatt and Brigid Freeman, from the University of Melbourne.
The report recommends affordable and supportive accommodation options near Melbourne educational institutions and increased course, career, financial and social guidance. South West LLEN acting CEO Helen Bayne said rural students were hindered by costs and travel barriers, but were just as capable as their city counterparts.
“Country students deserve equality in accessing further education,” Ms Bayne said.
“This report confirms they don’t have equal access and need more support.
“We know this is a problem and have the evidence-based research to prove it.
“Now we need government policies to address this inequity.”
“The number of jobs today that demand a university qualification is increasing and this trend will continue in the future and our local young people deserve the same chance as city kids.”
The biggest barriers for rural and regional students is financial worries and travel-related factors, with many struggling to make the social transition.
The report confirms the proportion of rural and regional students who complete year 12 and continue to university is substantially lower than Melbourne.