Plans for university study centres in the Upper Spencer Gulf are beginning to take shape, with an aim to accept students at the Port Pirie campus from 2019.
The Community Tertiary Education Centre (COTEC) initiative received over $1 million in funding from the federal government’s Upper Spencer Gulf Regional Jobs and Investment Package in April.
Chair of Spencer Gulf Cities and Port Augusta Mayor Sam Johnson said university partners are keen to move forward with the project.
“We will be working closely with secondary schools and local businesses over the coming weeks to identify potential students and potential employers and to then make sure our university partners offer the courses that best meet these local needs,” he said.
With limited face-to-face support options for tertiary students in the region, a study centre is set to be established in Port Pirie later this year, with plans for a Port Augusta site to follow.
Study centres provide students with a quiet place to study and meet other students while completing their studies online.
Students using the hubs would have access to university resources, technology and staff.
Mayor Johnson said the centres would help develop a strong, local workforce.
“We have been working with a range of local industry, education and government partners for several years now to develop a new model to deliver higher education in our region and to meet the needs of our region,” he said.
Port Pirie Mayor John Rohde said it was an exciting initiative for the region, opening opportunities for students who don’t have the time or resources to move or commute to Adelaide.
“One of our partners, Central Queensland University, has about thirty study centres around Australia,” Mayor Rohde said.
“They understand regional communities and have a model that works.
“In addition, the University of Adelaide and Flinders University have a long history in our region and are already doing some great work with schools and employers.”
The Spencer Gulf Cities Association is also looking into new opportunities for students to move easily between TAFE and university study.