Regional universities provide a massive economic contribution to the local economy.
Regional universities provide a massive economic contribution to the local economy.

The $1.7b difference our unis make

IT IS graduates from regional unis who are solving many of the problems facing rural and regional areas of Australia.

Regional graduates are disaster-proofing cities, rehabilitating drug addicts and saving lives.

Research from the Regional Universities Network shows seven out of 10 graduates of regional universities go on to work in jobs outside metropolitan areas.

RUN executive director Caroline Perkins said jobs in regional areas increasingly needed a tertiary education.

She said overwhelmingly that workforce was being filled with graduates from local universities.

"In regions it is not just about supplying workers for increasingly high-tech jobs, but about having enough professionals, like teachers, doctors and engineers, to work in regional communities," she said.

Similarly, the Regional Australia Institute said digital technology and automation was increasingly important to regional economies.

The RAI's 2017-18 annual report said Australia's "regional workforce is changing with a surge in the use of digital technologies and automation".

Dr Perkins said their research showed regionally-based universities contributed $1.7billion to the Australian economy and drove regional growth.

"Very simply, if you want to grow regional economies - as professionals are - you need to be investing in regional universities," she said.

"We need to see regional universities and higher education as being part of a broad strategy of regional development."

Dr Perkins said the RUN research found that a person with a bachelor's degree could expect to be paid 34 per cent more than the average wage.

RUN will host a conference on the Gold Coast later this month to highlight how the universities are "transforming their regions".

RUN represents regional universities across Australia including University of Southern Queensland, Central Queensland University, University of Sunshine Coast and Southern Cross University. -NewsRegional