REGIONAL EXODUS: Of her circle of friends, Sabrina Singh was the only one to stay and study in the Northern Rivers, while the others left for
REGIONAL EXODUS: Of her circle of friends, Sabrina Singh was the only one to stay and study in the Northern Rivers, while the others left for "elite" universities in Brisbane or Melbourne. She is concerned about the future cost of degrees - but right now it isn't a problem. Hamish Broome

Is there a youth brain drain on the Northern Rivers?

JUST 11% of people living on the Northern Rivers have a bachelor degree or higher, which puts Southern Cross University social welfare student Sabrina Singh into an elite category.

Most of Ms Singh’s friends are also uni students – but tellingly, not here on the Northern Rivers.

The 21-year-old only stayed in Lismore so she could save money by living at home.

“Originally I didn’t want to, I got into UQ and the University of Sydney,” Ms Singh said.

“I wanted to go to a more ‘elite’ uni, you could say, because I’ve been told that employers would want that.”

“I stayed at SCU because I knew my parents couldn’t help me if I moved out ... it was an economic decision, definitely.”

Some of her friends also had the privilege of parents paying for their HECS debts, but not Ms Singh.

She said she was concerned about mounting uni debts, but getting a degree was seen as one of the few paths to a secure job.

However if the debt was to go up significantly she might revisit that assumption.

Of her (Lismore) Trinity Catholic College school friends, many moved to Brisbane, to study at UQ or QUT, and two went to Melbourne’s RMIT.

Ms Singh said the issue was more complex than just ‘regional people don’t go to uni as much’, because her departed friends did, but they were probably counted as city dwellers.

She said there was a stigma around SCU, just because it wasn’t seen as well performing as the city universities.

“I remember in high school, going to Southern Cross was something laughed about, because it was like ‘no one knows what Southern Cross is’,” she said.



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