Fees may send city students packing to country

LOOMING fee hikes across all major universities could see an influx of city students packing their bags and heading for the Fraser Coast.

Speaking to business leaders at Wednesday's Hervey Bay Chamber of Commerce breakfast, University of Southern Queensland Vice Chancellor Professor Jan Thomas said the region stood to benefit should proposed Federal Budget reforms make it through the Senate.

Under the changes, universities would have the ability to set their own course fees, meaning students would likely be up for more money in the long run, despite not having to pay up front.

It's a plan which Prof Thomas acknowledges puts more pressure on students striving for a higher education, but one which she hopes will make regional universities more appealing.

With a proven track record of having the highest graduate employment rates in the state, USQ struggles to attract the bulk of local school leavers who see it as a "right of passage" to head to the city to continue their studies.

Prof Thomas said it remained to be seen how students responded to the changes, but hoped that the region could lure students away from the city with the promise of cheaper accommodation and a better lifestyle.

She said it would be up to the private sector to provide student accommodation and urged business to consider how it could assist by offering part-time employment opportunities.

Topics:  fees fraser coast campus hervey bay pialba students university of southern queensland usq

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