The stated aim of the National, Regional, Rural and Remote Education Strategy is to build capacity, develop educational opportunities, support students, and increase access in rural, regional, and remote areas. This is an ethically upright and financially prudent goal. To achieve this goal, however, the Academy recommends a number of changes to policy settings.
Recommendation 1: Delay significant education policy changes until there has been genuinely comprehensive consultation with the relevant experts.
Recommendation 2: Restore all funds cut from the Research Support Program, and commit to a robust framework for research funding in order to enable universities to operate effectively and conduct their best and most innovative research across the system.
Recommendation 3: Increase overall research investment by committing to clear steps towards lifting Australian R&D investment from its current low rate of 1.88% of GDP to match the OECD average of 2.4% by 2025, with the longer-term specific goal of reaching the current OECD Best Practice frontier of 3% by 2030
Recommendation 4: Consider an income contingent loan scheme for university-business research and development partnerships based in regional, rural and remote locations.
Recommendation 5: Deployment of the immigration points system, with sufficient social science guidance, to aid the Inquiry’s objectives.
Recommendation 6: Ensure a proper evaluation process into the effectiveness and legitimacy of the regional, rural and remote education package.