Federal Grey MP Rowan Ramsey says the federal government decision to back the Upper Spencer Gulf Regional Study Hub will provide unprecedented access for country students to study closer to home and slash the cost of tertiary access.
“I have advocated for years to bring about better access for regional students and the $1.9 million will provide an operating budget for the start-up facility for the first four years,” he said.
“It comes on top of the $1.1 million that I was able to secure through the Regional Jobs and Investment Package for the Upper Spencer in April.
“That grant has enabled the hub to secure property and undertake capital works so they can begin first thing next year.
“It was the government’s intention to establish eight hubs around Australia and I knew the competition would be tight, but when the Minister Simon Birmingham informed me he had secured extra funds to double the investment, I became increasingly confident of success.
“It really is another of the rewards we are reaping for running a healthy economy.
”Subsequently, the Morrison government is providing an additional $7.5 million for our Regional Study Hubs initiative.”
Mr Ramsey said the hub would start in Port Pirie next year and another node would be established in Port Augusta in 2020. He said the hub would provide study spaces, internet access, video-conferencing, administrative, pastoral and academic support for country students studying via distance with education partners at Flinders University, Central University of Queensland, TAFE SA, and Adelaide University.
“This is a very exciting project modelled on the outstanding success of similar facilities in Geraldton and Cooma,” he said. “The regional study hubs will mean local students can take up higher education and training opportunities without having to relocate to the city or travel long distances from home.”
Education Minister Dan Tehan said the government was providing about $24 million during four years to help establish or expand 16 Regional Study Hubs covering 22 locations throughout Australia. “More funding for Regional Study Hubs was part of the government’s additional $134 million commitment to regional and rural higher education, bringing the total additional new funding for regional higher education to $400 million during five years,” he said.
UniHub Spencer Gulf welcomed the grant. The aim of the federal program is to help country students stay in their local communities while undertaking their university study.
UniHub Spencer Gulf will form part of a national network of 16 regional study centres that will provide study spaces, internet access, video-conferencing, administrative, academic and tutorial support for country students studying locally with UniHub’s university partners.
UniHub Spencer Gulf board chair Dr Jen Cleary said the federal funding boost would support the hub to “grow our own” skilled workforce.
“The Upper Spencer Gulf is entering a significant economic transition with rapid emergence of new growth in industries such as renewable energy, defence, mining arid agriculture and tourism,” she said.
“The lack of past investment in developing our skilled workforce is now reaching a critical point. It is important that we grow a skilled workforce from within the region to ensure a competitive, vibrant and self-reliant economy and community.
“The UniHub means school leavers and those already in the workforce seeking to study now have a locally-supported option for university without having to relocate to the city or going it alone online.”