The Victorian Coalition Government will invest $3.3 million to boost participation rates in vocational and higher education and grow jobs in the state's north-east.


The funding, part of the $20 million Regional Partnerships Facilitation Fund, will be directed to three projects involving a consortium of universities and TAFE institutes to increase participation in the region's food and dairy manufacturing industry and boost the number of local students in higher education and training.


The programs funded are


1. $2.2 million for a Facilitated Online Regional Learning Model called U2Uni to provide realistic options into higher education, tertiary education transition skills and mentoring support to students in the north east.


Over a two-year period the project will support and enable 140 new learners to progress through a three-tiered pathway beginning with study at a diploma level and transitioning through multiple pathways to associate degree and to a degree-level university qualification.


The first students will begin VET diploma-level courses in February 2012. The program enables students to progress to a Swinburne associate degree in year two and to the third year of a Swinburne undergraduate degree in year three.


Partners: Swinburne University of Technology and Mansfield Adult Continuing Education (MACE).


2. Strengthening Regional Food and Dairy Manufacturing Education project


$650,000 towards tailored food science, technology and management programs for the dairy and food manufacturing industries.


In 2013 at least 90 regional students are expected to participate in courses with embedded industry engagement and clear articulation pathways ranging from certificate IV to bachelor degree.


The project, endorsed by Dairy Australia, will help improve access to specialised training in areas where there is a recognised shortage of suitable training and university courses.


Partners: Goulburn Ovens TAFE (GOTAFE) and the University of Ballarat. The project will strengthen access to education and training opportunities in regional Victoria using a strong industry engagement model focused on the food, dairy and manufacturing industries.


3. Tertiary Enabling Program


$460,000 to expand the Tertiary Enabling Program to Bendigo, Shepparton and Mildura.

The Tertiary Enabling Program provides an 18-week foundation course designed to prepare students for tertiary education study. The program is aimed at Aboriginal and refugee students and has the potential to prepare 90 students a year for tertiary education across the four sites. It is anticipated over 40 per cent of students who have been through the program may continue on to higher education courses.


Trained Aboriginal and refugee mentors will be used in and out of class to support integration into higher education. Personalised learning programs will support academic and social engagement.

The program targets two groups that are typically difficult to engage in tertiary education and has the support of some significant local Aboriginal organisations and the Ethnic Council of Shepparton.

: La Trobe University, Bendigo Regional Institute of TAFE (BRIT), Sunraysia Institute of TAFE (SuniTAFE) and Goulburn Ovens Institute of TAFE (GOTAFE).