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How Do I Know If I’m A Rural Student For Medical Entry?


The purpose of this blog post is to help you:

  • Understand why it is important to determine whether or not you are a rural student when applying for medicine.
  • Determine whether you are classified as a rural student for each university offering undergraduate medicine.
  • Understand the difference between ‘rurality’ and bonded rural schemes.

Why is it important to determine whether you are a rural student (or not)?

In general, getting into medicine is easier if you are classified a rural student. Most Australian universities offer alternate access pathways or score adjustments for rural students who are applying for medicine.  

This is because the medical schools claim that students from rural locations are more likely to return to work as a doctor in their community, where there is lower doctor:population ratio. An added bonus for Universities is that the Federal Government pays them 25% more for each rural student recruited into the medical school.

Therefore, rural students often have a separate quota. That is, rural students do not compete with city students for a place in medicine. Rural students only compete with other rural students.

How can I determine if I am a rural student?

There are multiple remoteness categories in Australia that universities can use to determine if you are classified as a rural or remote student. The particular category that a university uses can be the difference between being classified as an outer suburban student versus a rural student, or a rural student versus a remote student.

The main categories used for medical entrance are:

  • Australian Statistical Geography Standard - Remoteness Areas (2016)(ASGS-RA 2016)
  • Australian Statistical Geographical Classification - Remoteness Areas (ASGC-RA)
  • Rural, Remote and Metropolitan Area (RRMA)

Each category has a scale of either 1-5 or 1-7, where 1 is always major cities. Both ASGS and ASGC use a scale up to 5, with the following definitions:

  • 1: Major Cities
  • 2: Inner Regional
  • 3: Outer Regional
  • 4: Remote Australia
  • 5: Very Remote Australia

On the seven point scale, you only count as regional starting from category 3: Rural Zone, Code 3.

Using Sunshine Coast (Qld) as an example:

  • ASGS and ASGC: RA1, Major Cities Australia, all universities using these two categories will not accept students from Sunshine Coast as rural students.
  • RRMA: Rural Zone, Code 3. Accepted as a rural student at UNSW.



You can check your address against each of these categories at the Australian Government's  Health Workforce Locator.

The following table displays which category each university uses to determine rurality:

Please note that these requirements can change at short notice by medical schools, so you are advised to check on the website of the medical school you are applying to, for the latest information. The following is a general guide.



Brief Details



Must have lived at least five consecutive years, or 10 years cumulatively, in a rural area



Adjustment factors cannot be used for The Bond Medical Program

Charles Darwin

NT & Indigenous sub-quota

NT residents must have resided in the Northern Territory for two years out of the last six years or for a total of five years since commencing primary school

CSU - Medicine

ASGS-RA (2016)

Rural origin is defined as “residency for at least 10 years cumulatively or any 5 years consecutively in an ASGS-RA 2-5 area since the age of five years.”

CSU - Dentistry


Rural applicants are those applicants who have spent 5 or more years in ASGC remoteness areas


ASGS-RA (2016)

Applicants who as of 31 December prior to commencement of the program, have lived in a rural area at least 10 years cumulatively or any five years consecutively from the commencement of primary school


ASGS-RA (2016)

Must have lived for at least 5 consecutive years, or 10 years cumulatively, from birth (i.e. during any period of their life)


ASGS-RA (2016)

Must have lived for a minimum of five or more consecutive years, or 10 cumulative years, prior to commencing university study


JCU has an adjustment factor for its catchment area: postcodes 4306 through to 4895

La Trobe

ASGS-RA (2016)

When applying for the Bachelor of Dental Science (Honours) (Regional Entry), if a candidate has a permanent address in RA zones 2 and 3, they receive 10 points added to their ATAR. If they live in RA zone 4, they receive 12.5 points, and if they live in RA zone 5, they receive 15 points added to their ATAR



To be eligible, students must have resided (according to principal home address) for at least five years consecutively or ten years cumulatively in areas classified as RA 2-5 since birth

Newcastle / UNE JMP

ASGS-RA (2016)

Must have resided for at least five years consecutively or ten years cumulatively in a rural and/or remote location


RRMA 3-7

Applicants must have lived in a defined Australian rural area, RRMA 3-7 (Rural, Remote, Metropolitan Areas classification system) for at least five consecutive or ten cumulative years since the age of 5


ASGS-RA (2016)

Must have resided for at least five consecutive years, or for 10 years cumulatively in a rural area

University of Tasmania

ASGS-RA (2016)

Eligibility is based on location. Students must have lived in a regional or remote area of Australia for: (all of Tas is 'rural')
Five or more consecutive years, OR
Ten cumulative years


ASGS-RA (2016)

To be eligible, an applicant’s principal home address must have been in an Australian Standard Geographical Remoteness Area ASGS-RA 2-5 (2016) for any five years consecutively or at least 10 years cumulatively*


ASGS-RA (2016)

REAS applicants must have lived in an Australian Statistical Geography Standard - Remoteness Area (ASGS-RA) of 2 to 5 for a minimum of 5 years consecutively or 10 cumulative years, commencing from the age of 5 to immediately prior to commencing the Doctor of Medicine.

*Note: UWA's Rural Eligibility form states ASGC-RA 2016, this is verified as incorrect (25/08/2021)

What is the difference between being classified as a ‘rural’ student and rural bonded schemes?

Bonded medical schemes are another strategy that the government has implemented to help improve rural doctor workforce.

In these schemes, the ‘rurality’ of the student is not important. Instead, it is a requirement that the student work in eligible rural locations for three years after graduating. For more information, please see our dedicated blog on these schemes.

If I am classified as a ‘rural’ student or study at the rural campus of the university, do I have to work in rural areas after graduation?

No, there is no obligation on you to work in rural areas, nor are you disadvantaged in any way in your career, such as during application for specialty training.


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