Almost 40 per cent of surveyed regional school-leavers who defer university failed to take up their offer after one year, a report has found.
The Local Learning and Employment Network-supported report Deferring a University Offer in Victoria also found young people from non-metropolitan areas deferred their university offer at twice the rate of their metropolitan counterparts.
In light of these results, the education network has called for more support for regional high school leavers.
Baw Baw Latrobe LLEN chief executive Mick Murphy said financial stresses and travel-related factors were the biggest barriers for rural and regional students and many struggle to make the social transition after leaving home.
“For many students, government financial support is essential for them to take up their university offer,” Mr Murphy said.
“Many students found the process of demonstrating eligibility for government financial support frustrating, and said it influenced the choices they make.”
The study found one of the main reasons students deferred university was due to financial considerations.
The report recommended regional students received greater course and career guidance plus social and financial support in their first two years out of school.
“There is a case for more effective structures of initial support both to prevent deferral in the first place and to assist those who do defer,” the report read.
It also identified the need for affordable accommodation for young people from regional areas near their chosen educational institution, such as subsidised access to university residential colleges or dedicated college-type accommodation.
LLEN representatives will formally present the report to Higher Education and Skills Minister Nick Wakeling in Melbourne this afternoon.
Mr Murphy said the report, which was coordinated through LLENs across the state and the result of six years of University of Melbourne research, was a demonstration of the value of the organisation.
He said he hoped the State Government would soon make an announcement about funding the LLEN after the Federal Government ceased financial assistance of the organisation.
Spokesperson for Education Minister Martin Dixon said while the State Government would not be able to fill the $11 million hole left by the Federal Government, it would make an announcement “shortly” regarding arrangements for next year.