More than 1200 students in regional and remote parts of Australia will receive enterprise scholarships over the next four years under a regional skills package announced by the federal government on Tuesday.
The government will spend $24 million over four years to fund the Rural and Regional Enterprise Scholarships, which aim to “improve educational attainment, skills development, and employment opportunities for rural and regional students.
Employers in the science, technology, engineering, mathematics and health sectors could stand to benefit from the scheme, which will provide up to $20,000 for at least 1200 students who are studying for undergraduate, postgraduate or vocational education and training qualifications.
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According to the budget papers, funding has already been provided for the scholarships.
Under the government’s wider changes to the education system, $15.2 million will also be allocated to establishment and operate eight regional study hubs for higher education students in rural and remote areas.
The government has highlighted regional Australia as a key focus for this year’s budget, which also includes major infrastructure projects in regional areas.
More than $70 billion has been allocated for infrastructure spending between 2013-14 and 2020-21, including an $8.4 billion direct rail freight route between Melbourne and Brisbane and funding for Sydney’s second airport.
New rail infrastructure will be funded under a $10 billion National Rail Program, which will include $600 million from the federal government over two years from 2019-2020.
A Regional Growth Fund will also be established with $472.2 million over four years, starting in 2017-18.
According to the budget papers, the fund will include $272.2 million worth of grants for infrastructure projects in regions that are “undergoing structural adjustment”, as well as $200 million in additional funding to the existing Building Better Regions Fund.