A successful regional university pilot has won backing from the NSW Government and is set to be expanded in several parts of the state.
Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW, Skills and Small Business, John Barilaro, said the government would provide $8 million to help expand the Country Universities Centres (CUC) program that was successfully launched in Cooma.
At least five other venues will be established over the next three years. It is believed Broken Hill and Goulburn are at the top of the list.
“The first Country Universities Centre began in Cooma in 2013 helping local students undertaking distance or online university courses study together in a centre offering the best quality facilities, technology and support staff,” Mr Barilaro said.
“Since it opened in 2013, the original CUC has provided facilities and services for more than 175 students undertaking tertiary studies.”
The students have accessed studies from 28 universities across 34 undergraduate and 23 postgraduate courses with a 95 per cent competition rate.
“We are committed to ensuring that regional students are given the option to live at home close to their family and friends while undertaking tertiary education of their choice, rather than having to relocate for study which can both disruptive and expensive,” Mr Barilaro added.
“This great idea has since been expanded to Young with the establishment of the Hilltops Universities Centre so I’m delighted to announce $8 million will be provided by the NSW Department of Industry to expand the CUC.”
Mr Barilaro said the CUC is currently assessing suitable locations for five regional hubs, which will be established in conjunction with local communities.
The “campus-feel” centres will provide local study spaces and include high-speed internet, video-conferencing, computer and print facilities, as well as workshops delivered by qualified local instructors.
Snowy-Monaro administrator Dean Lynch was one of the people who helped established the Cooma centre, with financial support from Snowy Hydro. He was concerned at the loss of people aged from 22-40 from town, who often left and didn’t return (70 per cent).