Local tertiary student figures are unacceptable

Letters to the editor

These are figures from the ABS 2016 Census QuickStats. In the Central Coast, 10,275 people are undertaking studies at a University or tertiary institution.

Statistically, this represents 10.9 per cent ,while the NSW figure is 16.2 per cent, and for all Australia, 16.1 per cent. The local fi gures are unacceptable. By the next census, we need to half the difference in tertiary uptake. For the short term, we should aim to increase the uptake to 13+ per cent, with the long term aim of achieving 17 per cent by the 2026 Census. This will need a multifaceted approach, with the whole Central Coast community being committed to the cause. The role of tertiary education in promoting intellectual curiosity, personal development and career opportunities needs to be highlighted by schools, parents, employers, the media and community leaders. Higher education is in the individual’s and the nation’s best interest. The variety of local tertiary educational courses needs to increase.

This could be done by the Ourimbah campus of the University of Newcastle increasing its course offerings and the government providing hubs or centres where other universities and tertiary institutions can provide online courses and visiting lecturers. In providing new courses, the tertiary institutions should fill the gaps in the building and engineering fields, and also play to the area’s strengths in coastal environmental sciences. A number of problems need to be tackled. The Central Coast is a low socio-economic area, which means there needs to be many more scholarships donated by philanthropists, large employers and governments. Many students are the first in their families to access a tertiary education. Educators need to provide a smooth entry with extra encouragement , counselling and ongoing support. To improve the future, we need to act now.

Email, Nov 21 Margaret Bevege, Kanwal