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Researching the impact of deregulation of Australian universities

Monday, 17 October 2016

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Since 2014 the deregulation of Australian universities has been a topical issue in Australian public discourse. Internationally, the deregulation of universities has impacted on funding, tuition fees, governance structures and autonomy of higher institutions. However, the Australian Federal Government’s proposed deregulation policy received stiff resistance from politicians, students, academics and some sections of the general public.

From a social justice perspective, criticism of the policy includes concerns that higher education will deter some groups of people from accessing higher education, including students from rural areas, female students, mature aged students, students from low-socioeconomic backgrounds, and medical students.

The social impact of the deregulation of university fees on rural students is largely unexplored. This research has aimed to explore the impact on students from rural areas in light of the evidence of known barriers for rural students studying in universities in cities.

Findings from phase one

Following focus groups and interviews held at three rural high schools, initial results indicated that most of the students expressed concerns that if university deregulation resulted in fee hypes they may reconsider university education, take a ‘gap year’ to save for university and its associated costs, or it may end their dream of going to university at all. Teachers at the schools raised concerns that the low level of interest in attending university would be exacerbated by fee hypes.

Phase two

To ascertain the impact of taking a gap year (or more), we are conducting focus groups and individual interviews with students currently at university who attended high school in a regional or rural area and took a gap year prior to starting at university.


Are you a rural or regional student, or completed High School in a rural or regional area? Did you take a gap year (or more)?

If so, we would like to speak to you to explore the impact of the Federal Government’s proposed deregulation of university fees on rural and regional students. We are conducting focus groups and individual interviews with students currently at university who attended high school in a regional or rural area and took a gap year prior to starting at university.

The focus group or interview will only take 40 minutes, and we will give you a $20 voucher for your time.

Please email Wendy Simpson if you would like to be a part of this important research.

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