$15,000 windfall: What the 2019 Federal Budget could do for regional uni students

Living and studying expenses can be heavy on many students’ pockets, so what would happen if they got the chance to receive $15,000 a year for attending a regional uni?

Would they make the switch from the big city?

In the 2019 Federal Budget, that was announced at the beginning of the month, the Australian Government announced it would be offering over 1,000 new scholarships to both domestic and international students attending or planning to attend a regional university as part of the ‘Destination Australia’ scholarship program.

“We recognise the government’s commitment to encourage more students, including international students, to study at regional university campuses and inclusions of regional education in the broader population package,” Chair of the Regional Universities Network (RUN), Professor Helen Bartlett said.

“RUN support the continued inclusion of education-related initiatives in broader development policy, including in future city and regional deals.”

So basically this new program, that will start in the first semester of 2020, aims to assist uni-goers with study and living costs and with uni enrolments on the rise encourage more students to choose regional, over more popular city-based, universities.

While many would appreciate the Government investing more money into higher education, the real question on every students’ mind is - what’s the actual difference in living costs between metropolitan and regional universities in Australia and how far would $15,000 a year really go if I made the move?

Students’ cost of living: Metropolitan v Regional

According to Sydney University, students living away from home will require at least $1,690 per month for expenses like accommodation, food, utilities and entertainment. That adds up to about $20,290 per year for living expenses.

But not all unis are the same, so it’s fair to say that you may get away with paying significantly less if you study somewhere other than a major city.

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In an assessment completed by Urbis in February 2018, for the Department of Education and Training, students at metropolitan universities across Australia were found to be in more financial stress when it came to paying for accommodation than those in regional areas.

For example, for students living on-campus in NSW, those in Sydney were revealed to pay 67% of the average weekly income for students aged 19-24, whereas regional students only paid 36%.

The same went for uni students living off-campus, as regional uni-goers in NSW spent on average almost $50 less of their weekly income on accommodation than those in the city, and no matter who you ask $50 can go a long way for any student.  

With these figures in mind, the possibility of attending a regional university with a scholarship of up to $15,000 a year could really help students living out of home.

Students who decide to move away from a major city could potentially make big savings and further reduce living expenses by studying regionally when compared to the high prices of urban areas.

Average On-Campus Student Accommodation Rent Around Australia 

(According to Urbis Assessment)

City/RegionAverage Weekly Rent

(52 Weeks)

Average Student Income 19-24


Rent as a % of student income 
Regional NSW$144$39636%
Regional VIC$169$31554%
Regional QLD$157$35444%
Regional SA$100$31831%
Regional WA$164$36645%
Regional TAS$151$30549%

Keep in mind, other everyday spending like public transport, food and even entertainment can vary between metropolitan and regional areas, so it will be worth having a proper look around because it may just balance or tip your financial scales when it comes to deciding where to study.

So, what are some ways I can save as a student?

  • Get a student transport card
  • Always take advantage of student discounts wherever you go
  • Attend free events (both inside of outside of Uni - there are plenty around)
  • Be smart with food shopping - buy cheap and limit eating out
  • Open a student bank account or savings account (to save of fees)
  • Buy used textbooks over new and sell your old ones

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Need more advice on your student finances or just want some extra info? Head over to our student hub for more helpful guides and student news.