Regional loading (which totalled $31.8 million in 2010) is paid to eligible higher education providers in recognition of the higher cost of providing places at regional campuses. The 2008 Review of Australian Higher Education highlighted the complexity of issues for regional higher education provision in Australia. The Review made a number of recommendations in response to these issues including that the current system of regional loading under the Commonwealth Grant Scheme be reviewed.
In response, the Australian Government as part of its Transforming Australia’s Higher Education System reform agenda, examined the cost of providing higher education in regional Australia, in particular the appropriateness of regional loading. The objective of the review of regional loading was to develop options for a new, more logical basis for funding. As part of this review the Government sought input from key stakeholders through a State-based consultation process, and commissioned research into good practice in regional higher education and the additional costs of providing higher education in regional and remote areas of Australia.
New regional loading
The Australian Government has announced that it will increase funding for the regional loading by $110 million over four years and improve the way the regional loading is provided to universities. Funding will be targeted to the campuses that most need support, and it will be provided through a transparent process that responds to student demand.
Details of the regional loading funding formula can be found below in the Review of Regional Loading: Final Report, Chapter 8 (pages 29 to 33).
For more information, including the media release, visit the Department’s 2012 Budget webpage.
Regional Provision Reference Group
A high level Regional Provision Reference Group was established by the Department to provide critical guidance to the Department throughout the review. The members were:
- Professor Richard Larkins AO (Chair)
- Ms Paddi Creevey
- Professor Ian Goulter
- Professor Sandra Harding
- Ms Virginia Simmons
The Australian Government released an issues paper on 24 December 2009, The Review of Regional Loading - Issues for Regional Provision, inviting input from the higher education sector and other stakeholders on key matters relating to the provision of quality higher education in regional Australia, with particular reference to funding and the role of regional loading.
The department received 63 submissions in response to the issues paper.
Three research reports were commissioned to support the review.
The outcomes of the consultations, along with the commissioned research and advice provided by the Reference Group and in the submissions, informed the development of the Review of Regional Loading: Final Report.
The Australian Government provided advice on the regional loading to the Government in December 2010. The Review of Regional Loading: Final Report considered regional higher education policy issues, assessed the current regional loading and provided advice on a revised regional loading.