Inequality between regional and metropolitan education outcomes is a "structural factor" in the Victorian education system, according to the Deputy Vice Chancellor of La Trobe University, Professor Richard Speed.
This figure is even lower for more regional areas like Benalla, Moira, Federation, and Berrigan.
Part of this figure can accounted for by people moving away from regional areas to attend university in major cities, however Professor Speed says the problem starts much earlier.
"Attainment for students in regional Victoria is lower than in metropolitan centres, and that's at all levels, coming through from the first NAPLANs," he said.
NAPLAN testing begins in year three, and repeats for years five, seven, and nine. A 2018 Independent Review into Regional, Rural and Remote Education found a trend in NAPLAN results of "decreasing attainment and increasing remoteness".
This trend continues throughout education levels according to the IRRRRE, with high school completion for inner regional areas 14 per cent bellow major cities, and both inner regional and outer regional having about half of the proportion of 24 to 35 year-olds with a university degree.
Professor Speed emphasised that this is not an issue of students' talent or quality of teachers, but about providing access and resourcing.
"The challenges of delivering the skills and opportunities to people in regional centres has been recognised by all levels of government," he said, "The schools are working absolutely as hard as they can."
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Another factor Professor Speed pointed out was role models.
"The number of regional students who know a friend's parent whose a doctor or a lawyer, there tends to be far less," he said, "So you often find aspiration isn't as high as it would be in metropolitan areas."
This reason also intertwines with job opportunities, Chief Executive Officer of Wodonga TAFE said that higher TAFE enrolment in the area is logical because "Wodonga and its surrounding regions have close proximity to many industries strongly embedded in TAFE training, such as building and construction, engineering and manufacturing, healthcare and agriculture."
Professor Speed agreed, but said it's a "balancing act".
"If all the skills are focused at the entry level, then you've still got the problem that you've got to go out and find specialist nurses, qualified social workers and so on. Communities needs skills right across the board."
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Wodonga TAFE and La Trobe's TAFE campus work very closely with each other to ensure easy transitions for diploma students wanting to continue higher education.
La Trobe also has a program that works with schools in Wodonga to assist students in reaching positive year 12 outcomes and prepare them for university, Professor Speed said students in that cohort had their success rate lifted to the Victorian average.
"The issue around regional participation in higher education is why we have the campus in Wodonga, and why we're committed to having regional campuses along the north of the state," he said.
"As a university we're absolutely committed to giving students and their communities the opportunity to benefit from the skills that university graduates bring."
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