Nationals Member for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker is inviting students, parents, and teachers to come forward with ideas on how the Australian Government can better support young people to achieve a university degree. Mr Hartsuyker has asked Senator Bridget McKenzie, Chair of the Senate Standing Committee on Education and Employment, and representatives from the departments of Education and Social Services to present at a Regional Higher Education Forum in Coffs Harbour this Friday August 21 at 10am. “The forum will provide an opportunity for local students, parents, teachers and community members to discuss the barriers to accessing higher education for regional students and how to overcome them,” Mr Hartsuyker said in a press release. “A postcode should not determine whether a young person can secure a university degree, but sadly that is sometimes the case. “Young people from regional and remote communities make up 27 per cent of Australia’s population, yet they only represent 21 per cent of Australia’s university population – this must improve. “Securing a university degree is important to our young people with graduates earning on average 75 per cent more over the life of their careers. “It is also vitally important to the future of our regional communities because regional young people are more likely to return to regional Australia to live and work. The students of today are the doctors, dentists, lawyers, accountants, journalists, teachers, engineers and computer programmers of tomorrow. Senator McKenzie said that “students who have to relocate to study face costs of between $15,000 and $20,000 a year before they have even purchased a book or paid for their tuition”. “These significant cost burdens are not faced by city students who can remain at home while they study,” she said. “While there are some support programmes available such as Youth Allowance and relocation grants, many families who earn above the threshold don’t qualify and are left to foot the bill. “For a local family with two or more students wanting to access higher education these extra costs can be crippling.” To register your interest in attending the forum phone 6652 6233 or email Luke.Hartsuyker.MP@aph.gov.au.