Skyrocketing uni costs may be a good thing for region

THE COST of going to university could skyrocket to more than $500,000 by 2033, experts have warned - but this could be a boost to areas such as the Fraser Coast.

A study by the Australian Scholarships Group showed combination of increased university fees and the high cost of living would mean children born this year could pay more than $500,000 to live away from home to study.

For example, according to ASG, students studying medicine away from home in 2033 were forecast to pay about $260,000 more in total for their university education when considering the university fees, transport, computers and living costs.

But USQ Vice-Chancellor Professor Jan Thomas said the increase could bring more people into regional universities.

"There are a lot of living expenses related to going to university and obviously for those people who can stay at home and study, they save more, but if they have to move there are costs associated," she said.

"When regional universities can provide great services so students don't have to move to the cities to study it's a great thing because research shows that people are more likely to work and live in the region where they studied so the more students in regional universities, the more people there will be in regional areas.

"I think we'll see an increase in our numbers for a decreased cost of living," she said.

Prof Thomas said her biggest concern was that government funding for education might not increase despite the increase in costs.

"Looking at the intergenerational report, in 2055 the Australian government will be paying the same amount for education as it does now," she said.

"This is a big worry because education should be highly valued in a country that wants to be competitive."

But not all potential students agree that regional educational centres would see the boost.

When the Chronicle asked readers on Facebook if they thought the expense of going to university would bring more people into regional areas like the Fraser Coast, the consensus was no.

The people who commented on Facebook said there was not a wide enough range of degrees offered in regional universities compared to the city.

Keisha Fladrick said the way the regional universities were now would not bring more people in.

"Our university doesn't offer a diverse enough range of study options," she said.

"Our TAFE has slashed many of its programs too, or switched them to the Sunshine Coast campus, no; it very likely will not bring anybody here to study."

Jan Osborn believed the future of university study would erase the need for regional campuses.

"Come 2033, all courses will be online, uni students want to live in the big smoke, no need to go regional," she said.  

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