FEDERAL Education Minister Dan Tehan expects the coronavirus will lead to course enrolments increasing at Warrnambool's Deakin campus.
The campus had 182 enrolments at the start of this year, slightly up on 2019, with about 18 per cent of those international students.
But as would-be students face job insecurity and less opportunity for travel, Mr Tehan believes more will enrol to study locally.
"Our expectation would be we would see numbers continue to grow at the Deakin campus at Warrnambool," he said.
Mr Tehan has faced a backlash over plans to increase costs for students to do humanities and commerce degrees, while the Warrnambool campus has welcomed cheaper fees for popular degrees including nursing, teaching and marine science.
"These changes are designed to make people understand the importance of thinking about their job prospects," Mr Tehan said.
"There is also a $50 million investment fund for regional universities which enables them to work with partners to build their research capabilities.
"There is a lot of opportunity for increase in student numbers and linking with research that links the campus to industry."
Students who study away from the south-west could receive $5000 to help pay relocation costs when studying a Certificate IV qualification or higher, a recommendation of Denis Napthine's education strategy last year.
"We will also appoint a Regional Education Commissioner to drive the Napthine reforms and support the implementation of the government's Regional Education Strategy," Mr Tehan said.
He brushed off questions that increasing the cost of humanities would disadvantage students unable or unwilling to pay. He said the government was investing $500 million to support low-socio economic, regional and Indigenous students access higher education.
"We want to make sure university becomes more accessible," Mr Tehan said. "We have the best fee-help loans system in the world. They only start repaying after they start earning $46,000 or more."
He confirmed cost increases for humanities fees except English and language courses, which he said ensured literacy remained a "foundation of our education".
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