Building momentum for rural placement opportunities across the University

12 July 2011

The Rural Focus Group (RFG) has been operating for more than 3 years, and is comprised of representatives of many of the 16 faculties of the University. Its main goals are to increase the opportunities for students from all faculties to participate in rural placements and to improve the support given to rural students who come to the University of Sydney to study. Funding success for the Rural Focus Group in the recent round of STEP grants will allow the group to continue its work of setting up rural hubs with university-supported infrastructure and subsidised accommodation for students. To date, Dubbo, Forbes and Narrabri have begun to be developed as rural hubs.

The work of the RFG is strongly aligned to the University's commitment to Community-Engaged Learning & Teaching (CELT). By expanding opportunities for rural placements, the RFG is encouraging community engagement by undergraduate students and (hopefully) supporting the sustainability of rural communities that are constantly striving to attract professionals from large urban centres.

The Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources has a long standing commitment to supporting rural and regional students. The Faculty's representative on the RFG, A. Prof. Stephen Cattle, says that of all the faculties, the FAFNR has the highest proportion of rural/ regional students (about 20%) and a large network of linkages into rural communities across New South Wales. In 2009, the Faculty instituted first year scholarship programs which are exclusive to rural and regional students. Additionally, current students have the opportunity to embed professional placements across Australia. The STEP grant success for the RFG will continue this commitment and assist the RFG in facilitating a University-wide program for engagement with rural hubs

Contact: A/Professor Stephen Cattle

Phone: 02 9351 2944

Email: 254c15172e1f5b6c2d593b3d5f000f453c083a31315d2f333a6f0c30