Universities Australia Acting Chief Executive Anne-Marie Lansdown said such funding would especially help students in regional and outer suburban areas to narrow the opportunity gap.
“As UA has pointed out for years, a young person living in regional Australia is only half as likely to have a degree as someone who lives in a capital city,” Ms Lansdown said.
“We are pleased to see this funding pledge to sow the seeds of university aspiration in communities that still face some of the biggest education gaps,” she said.
UA understands this pledged funding would sit alongside the Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program (HEPPP).
UA has consistently highlighted the important equity gains achieved over the past decade through the uncapped system of university places and the flagship equity program HEPPP.
“Outreach and support programs run by our member universities encourage talented and hard-working people from disadvantaged backgrounds to think about applying to university,” Ms Lansdown said.
Universities Australia told a review of the HEPPP in 2016 that equity programs had made a powerful contribution to encourage participation.
The review for Government found more than 310,000 people had benefited from the HEPPP to encourage access to university for those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
“To put that in context – that’s the equivalent population of three Toowoombas, just over three Ballarats or four Launcestons,” Ms Lansdown said.
The 2017 HEPPP evaluation noted that the share of university students from disadvantaged backgrounds had risen from 14.8 per cent to 16.1 per cent since HEPPP was created.