MORE people living in regional areas are taking up university study, with enrolments up 17.4% since 2007, Tertiary Education Minister Chris Evans said on Wednesday.
Senator Evans said the latest annual tertiary enrolment figures showed some of the greatest increases in enrolments were people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Total low socio-economic status enrolments rose 17.4% - or 26,456 students - across the nation while regional enrolments rose by 24,427 students - or 17.4% - since 2007.
Indigenous enrolments in universities also increased 6.1% (or 5381 students) in the past five years.
Figures released earlier this year by the Federal Government show some 30% of students in regional universities were from lower socio-economic backgrounds, while just 17.8% of students in metropolitan universities were from struggling backgrounds.
The figures reflect continued growth in the sector, after the Regional University Network released data earlier this year showing the number of places its six-member universities offered rose on average by 19% since 2009.
"These figures show that the Gillard Government's reforms are helping record numbers of regional and Indigenous students reach their potential while resourcing the economy with the highly skilled workers needed to meet the challenges of tomorrow," Senator Evans said.