Inspiring quotes from a Whyalla mayor and a South African freedom fighter set the scene for the new Uni Hub Spencer Gulf on Tuesday.
The occasion was the unveiling of the $3.6 million Community Owned Tertiary Education Centre to have its campus in the old library, in Ellen Street, from early next year.
About 100 people, many of them parents and students, attended the event at the Port Football and Community Sporting Club where speakers evoked the words of two leaders.
Sam Johnson, a key backer of the venture through Spencer Gulf Cities, said that late Whyalla mayor Jim Pollock would have been a fierce defender of his city’s University of South Australia campus, but could see the big picture.
“Jim said, ‘Regardless of where a child lives, every child is entitled to an education at home’,” Mr Johnson said.
The quote summed up the university’s mission to bring tertiary study to the three gulf cities, enabling teenagers to stay in their home town while pursuing knowledge.
Master-of-ceremonies Dianah Walter took the comparisons a step further when, introducing logo creator Rowan Smith, she referred to the late Nelson Mandela. “Mr Mandela said, ‘Education is the most powerful weapon with which you can change the world’,” Ms Walter said.
Gabrielle Crouch, of Merriton, and her daughter Sophie, 17, were on a fact-finding mission at the launch.
Sophie wants to study psychology and said it would be “nice” if the degree was offered locally.
“It would be good to not worry about money so much,” she said, comparing living costs in Port Pirie with those in Adelaide if she attends university there. Mrs Crouch said they were evaluating the “pros and cons”.
Project co-ordinator Reg Dennis told The Recorder that the federal government had contributed $1.1 million to the $3.6 million two-year budget for the campus.
He said student fees for Port Pirie from next year and Port Augusta from 2020 would add to the revenue while costs of setting up the campuses was also supported through Spencer Gulf Cities.
Federal Grey MP Rowan Ramsey was unable to attend because of parliamentary commitments, but his representative Genevieve Wells said he was “strongly aware of the challenges faced by young people who go away for their education”.
“People from the regions are much more likely to live and work in the regions,” she said.
Jared Kent said possibilities existed for research to be conducted by post-graduate students at the campus.
“There is a huge possibility there down the track, but all endeavours start somewhere,” he said.