Denis Napthine does not want financial help provided to country students seen as welfare, but as a "fair go".
The former Victorian premier was in Wangaratta on Monday as chair of the Regional Education Expert Advisory Group, touring around the country to meet with education providers.
The goal is to improve the number of regional and rural students continuing their education after high school.
"This is not about welfare, this is about fairness and equity. This is about making sure that whether a young person lives in Corryong or lives in Kew or Camberwell, they have the same access to tertiary and vocational education," Dr Napthine said.
One of the issues facing country students was the cost of moving to Melbourne for their chosen course.
The number choosing to earn money on a gap year was far higher than those in the cities.
"A significant percentage don't return to study or have difficulty completing their studies. If they're doing it for purely financial regions, then we've got to fix that," Dr Napthine said.
He said the advisory group would ask the federal government to consider more access to study hubs or online options to help access for country students.
"We've got to look at what opportunities we can actually provide to further education options locally ... so people can do any course, anywhere, with appropriate support," he said.
"It might be that they do their first year or two at Wangaratta or Benalla, so then they're a little bit older and maybe have that little bit of finance behind them, then they might go off to the city.
"When they do go, then give them the full living away from home allowance."
We've got to look at what opportunities we can provide to further education options locally.Advisory group chair Denis Napthine
Goulburn Ovens TAFE, La Trobe University, University of Melbourne and the Country Education Project all attended today's meetings.
Dr Napthine said the door should be open for allowing regional universities only to be funded for a "demand-driven system" where the number of places is determined by how many achieve the scores needed.
"You could provide more places for regional and rural students, but also you might encourage city-based students to come and study here, which helps in decentralisation and could have a real positive effect for all of Australia," he said.
The advisory group's interim report will be released by the end of March and Dr Napthine said he expected recommendations could be adopted in this year's federal budget and election policies.
"Both sides of the political fence are aware of the challenges in rural and regional education in terms of access and opportunity and I think both sides are committed to trying to address those," he said.
"I think whoever wins the federal election may be well persuaded by the opportunities we put forward."
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