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Regional brain drain worsens

An Australian-first study has revealed regional students across every state and territory are turning to metropolitan universities at an unprecedented rate.

The new study, funded by the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education (NCSEHE) at Curtin University, and led by La Trobe University researchers, LBS’s Dr Buly Cardak and Matt Brett and Dr Mark Bowden of Swinburne University, shows the number of regional students across Australia moving to a city location to study increased by more than 76% between 2008 and 2014.

“We found the growth in regional students relocating to metropolitan universities far outstrips growth of regional students taking up higher education places in either their home town or another regional location. However, regional students studying in regional locations are still a majority, and are attracted to a small number of larger regional centres,” La Trobe Business School’s Associate Professor Buly Cardak said.

“This growth was particularly strong with more flexible modes of study. We found mature aged students, students with disabilities, or those wanting to study part-time are increasingly turning to city campuses.”

The researchers used enrollment data drawn from the Department of Education and Training from 2008-2014 which uniquely classifies students as regional based on their residential location when they started university.

“Previous information only accounted for students’ current home addresses. Using this new information we can see that the number of regional students enrolling in university has grown by almost 39% over this period.”

“This is in stark comparison to the conventional wisdom based on existing data, which shows the growth rate in regional student numbers is slightly lower than the rate of growth in metropolitan student numbers”

The report also indicated that regional students likely to face financial constraints are no less likely to attend university, and are instead displaying a greater likelihood of graduation.

“Our findings turn a lot of commonly held perceptions about regional students on their head, and is likely to have significant implications for the sector.”

“For example, how might the Government prioritise funding allocations, now that we know an increasing number of regional students are instead choosing metropolitan campuses? Do they invest more in the city, providing infrastructure and support for migrating students or do they increase incentives for students to stay in or return to regional locations where skilled graduates are in short supply?”

NCSEHE Director Professor Sue Trinidad said the report offers a new perspective on regional participation and paves the way for future discussion and policy advancements.

“The findings of this report are positive. It provides an evidence base for what is really happening with regional students accessing higher education. The issue now is the challenge of attracting graduates back to our regional areas, and the associated policy implications,” Professor Trinidad said.

The report, Regional student Participation and Migration, is available from the NCSEHE website.

Editor’s note:

The NCSEHE aims to inform public policy design and implementation and institutional practice to improve the higher education participation and success for marginalised and disadvantaged people.

La Trobe University is Victoria’s third oldest University. Established in 1971 it is now firmly entrenched in the world’s top 400 universities. It currently has more than 36,000 students and is the largest provider of higher education in regional Victoria.


LBS’s Professor Tim Bartram conducts research on why emotional intelligence makes you more successful

Image: Team Business Meeting by Unsplash (CC0.1.0)

Image: Team Business Meeting by Unsplash (CC0.1.0)

If you’ve recently read anything about getting ahead at work, you might have read that people with a high ‘EQ’ are more likely to get hired, promoted and earn better salaries. But what is EQ and why is it so important?

Emotional intelligence (EQ) is the ability to identify and regulate one’s emotions and understand the emotions the others. A high EQ helps you to build relationships, reduce team stress, defuse conflict and improve job satisfaction. Ultimately, a high EQ means having the potential to increase team productivity and staff retention. That’s why when it comes to recruiting management roles, employers look to hire and promote candidates with a high EQ – rather than IQ.

Identifying the importance of EQ, La Trobe researchers Dr Leila Karimi, Professor Sandra Leggat and Professor Tim Bartram have recently developed emotional intelligence training for healthcare employees. This training helps healthcare professionals excel while dealing with potentially emotionally taxing challenges like caring for ageing and dying people.

EQ is important for everyone who wants to be career ready. Drawing on the work of Daniel Goleman, below are five pillars of emotional intelligence and how they give you an advantage in the workforce.


Self-awareness is the ability to recognise one’s emotions, emotional triggers, strengths, weaknesses, motivations, values and goals and understand how these affect one’s thoughts and behaviour.

If you’re feeling stressed, annoyed, uninspired or deflated in your role, for example, it’s important to take the time to check-in with yourself and investigate why you might be feeling this way. When you’re able to label the emotion and understand its cause, you’re in a much better place to address the issue with appropriate action, such as putting your hand-up to take on additional work that might inspire you or finding productive ways to deal with a difficult colleague.


Drawing on one’s self-awareness, self-management is the ability to regulate one’s emotions. Everyone – including those with a high EQ – experiences bad moods, impulses and negative emotions like anger and stress, but self-management is the ability to control these emotions rather than having them control you.

This could mean delaying response to highly stressful or aggressive situations. Deciding to sleep on that angry email or phone call means you can react thoughtfully and with a clear-head, rather than impulsively. Negative emotions and impulsive behaviour not only negatively affects those around you, but can take a toll on your wellbeing too.


Motivation is essentially what moves us to take action. When we face setbacks and obstacles, checking in with our motives is what inspires us to keep pushing forward.

Those with low motivation are more likely to be risk-averse (rather than problem-solvers), anxious and quick to throw in the towel. Their lack of motivation may also lead them to express negative feelings about project goals and duties, which can impact team morale.

Those motived by ‘achievement’ and doing work they’re proud of, on the other hand, are more likely to ask for feedback, monitor their progress, push themselves and strive to continually improve their skills, knowledge and output. It’s easy to see why people with high motivation are an asset to any team.


Empathy is the ability to connect emotionally with others and take into consideration their feelings, concerns and points of view. It’s an important skill to have when negotiating with internal and external stakeholders and customers, as it enables one to anticipate the other’s needs and reaction.

In today’s workforce, emotionally savvy and intelligent managers assemble diverse teams whose unique perspectives and strengths they can leverage. Empathy is a key part of welcoming and appreciating different points of view to solve problems and come up with innovative ways forward.

Empathy is also essential for team harmony. Noticing and responding to the emotional needs of the people you work with makes for a happy work culture.

Relationship management

Relationship management is all about interpersonal skills – one’s ability to build genuine trust, rapport and respect from colleagues. This is about more than the cliché of a trust fall during a team building exercise – it’s about trusting and being trusted in a team.

A manager with outstanding relationship management skills is able to inspire, guide and develop their team members, greatly affecting team performance and productivity.
Final thoughts: although emotional intelligence seems to come naturally to some, our brain’s plasticity means we can increase our emotional intelligence if we’re willing to put in the work.

Find out more about our research into emotional intelligence.

This post was originally published on the La Trobe Knowledge Blog.

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