DESPITE rural and regional students facing additional costs to attend university compared with their metropolitan counterparts, a school principal says they are up to the challenge.
Orange High School (OHS) principal David Lloyd, who is supporting his own daughter, Samara, while she studies nursing at the University of Wollongong (UOW), said there was definite inequity between country and city students .
“It ends up being $400 or more a week and she supplements that with a job at uni,” he said.
Mr Lloyd said many students chose to take a gap year and others moved in with relatives, but the expenses did not keep them away from a tertiary education.
He estimated between 10 and 15 per cent of OHS students graduating from year 12 each attended the University of Sydney or the University of NSW, and 20 per cent each attended the University of Newcastle and UOW.
“Kids are resourceful, that’s the thing that really astounds me - they make it happen,” he said.
“I think they’re all aware of the costs and choose to live simply to make it work.”
With country students assessed against their parents’ income when they applied for youth allowance, Mr Lloyd suggested a tiered income threshold could be fairer.
“Maybe there could be four or five bands across the state where the parents’ income threshold could be lowered, like outer regional and rural,” he said.
Apart from providing careers and scholarship advice, Mr Lloyd said the school offered courses in responsible service of alcohol and gambling to allow students to gain part-time work in hospitality, while others studied vocational subjects as part of the Higher School Certificate to improve their employment prospects while they studied.
Year 12 student David Clare hopes to study political science at Australian National University with the help of a scholarship to take the pressure off his parents.
“A lot of the scholarships require an ATAR of 90 and there’s a huge amount of talent to compete with,” he said.
Year 11 student Chloe Barrett wants to study health or sport, but said her parents would be able to support her.
“But I have to get my own job so I have my own money,” she said.