A government review into tertiary education is one of the most important documents the University of New England will respond to for the next decade, vice-chancellor Brigid Heywood believes.
When the Armidale Express spoke to her last week, she had just flown back from Canberra, where she heard Dan Tehan, Federal Minister for Education, speak about the Napthine Review into Australia's Regional, Rural, and Remote (RRR) Tertiary Education Strategy.
People in RRR communities, the review states, are less likely to undertake and complete tertiary study because of the academic, geographic, social, and financial challenges they face.
They have fewer options for tertiary education, and often have to relocate for study, incurring extra financial costs and social dislocation.
The review recommends that universities must improve access to tertiary education for students in RRR areas; provide more financial and student support; and strengthen RRR schools to better prepare their students for success.
Creating education opportunities for rural and remote students, Professor Heywood said, was, and would continue to be, part of UNE's mission.
"The university understands how to ... enable students to succeed, whether as academics, professionals, or as informed, modern farmers," Professor Heywood said.
UNE, the vice-chancellor believes, should stay true to its commitment to support individuals seeking to better their lives through education - especially people who come from remote areas; who didn't complete their ATARs; or who returned to study after leaving without completing their degree.
She intends to provide more support for the high number of students who are the first in their family to attend university.
Professor Heywood also wants to carefully increase the international student body, which would bring talent and new practices and perspectives into the region.
She plans to recruit Indigenous students, and develop them to be subject matter experts across several disciplines, and bring their knowledge into the system.