Federal Nationals Member for Riverina Michael McCormack is calling on community-owned organisations across the Riverina and Central West to apply for funding to establish and operate a Regional University Study Hub.
Applications are currently open for the 2023 Application Round of the Regional University Study Hub Program, which will see up to 10 study hubs established across regional and remote Australia in 2024.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for university students in the Riverina and Central West’s smaller towns to benefit from a study hub, where distance students would be provided some of the same amenities and services that on-campus students enjoy,” Mr McCormack said.
“Many people living in regional areas would love to study at university but, typically, the only way to do that is via distance education and, unfortunately, the lack of support for distance students often acts as a significant deterrent.
“City-based students have access to multimillion-dollar state-of-the-art facilities and support programs, whilst those choosing to stay in regional communities and study via distance aren’t able to benefit from them, despite paying similar if not equal fees to study. I’ve always said that your postcode should not determine your potential.
“These study hubs go a long way to reduce the city-country education divide by providing administrative and academic support services, study spaces and IT facilities, as well as providing a network for local students to connect and collaborate.”
Mr McCormack said he was pleased to see the former Nationals Government’s legacy continue.
“The Regional University Study Hubs program, formerly the Regional University Centres program, was an initiative started in 2018 by the former Nationals Government,” Mr McCormack said.
“The Nationals delivered $102 million in funding to the program because we knew how important it was to bridge the city-country divide to ensure all Australians have an equal opportunity to pursue higher education.
“I’m pleased the current government has also recognised the importance of supporting regional education and has chosen to continue the program.”
The Riverina and Central West currently benefits from one Regional University Study Hub in Parkes.
“I was proud to have advocated for and to officially open the Country University Centre in Parkes,” Mr McCormack said.
“The Nationals in Government committed $505,000 to establish the centre in Parkes.
“The study hub in Parkes has become a highly valued institution of the community, which now also collaborates with Charles Sturt University to provide training to allied health students undertaking placements in the Central West as part of a $1.87 million grant by the former Nationals Government.
“It is clear these study hubs provide so much to regional communities and may even prove key to resolving the regional healthcare worker shortage by allowing those living in regional Australia to study and work in the healthcare field without having to move away to the big cities.
“I hope to see the Riverina and Central West benefit from the current round of the program.”
Applications for the program close at 5pm, 15 December 2023.
More information can be found at https://www.education.gov.au/regional-university-study-hubs