Tertiary centre gets buy-in
An advisory committee to oversee development of a Pilbara universities centre based in Karratha could be assembled imminently, after council approval for the idea.
At their meeting last week, City of Karratha councillors voted in favour of a supported distance education service modelled on the successful Geraldton Universities Centre.
The model would provide local tutorials and administrative and pastoral support for students otherwise taking distance education courses with partner universities, all located at a central campus.
Councillors accepted the results of the feasibility study finalised by GUC in August and appointed councillor Fiona White-Hartig as the council representative on a community-based advisory committee for the project.
City of Karratha Mayor Peter Long said a Pilbara universities centre would go a long way to provide more high-quality educational opportunities in the region.
“The prospect of a universities centre here in Karratha is very exciting and council is pleased to be able to offer our support to keep moving forward with these plans,” he said. “The Geraldton Universities Centre, which the Karratha proposal is based on, has been very successful and gives us hope that we can get this off the ground.”
The results of the PUC feasibility study showed about 120 students could potentially be enrolled at such a centre within five years of it being established and there was highest demand for courses in health, management and commerce and society and culture.
Classes could potentially start from Semester 2 next year.
GUC director Natalie Nelmes said City support for the centre was a catalyst for formally establishing the advisory committee.
Ms Nelmes said local community support was a key requirement for the centre’s future success.
“This buy-in comes in two forms: it’s the community champions who will stand up and advocate passionately for tertiary education access in the Pilbara, as well as the buy-in through lobbying for the funding that is needed for the establishment and continued support for such a centre once it is realised,” she said.
Ms Nelmes said the committee would consist of a “wide crosssection” of individuals and organisations committed to bettering educational opportunities and capacity in the Pilbara, including high schools, Karratha and Districts Chamber of Commerce and Industry, local industry and the Pilbara Development Commission.
“The advisory committee would be our conduit for understanding the needs and aspirations of Pilbara communities,” she said.
“In the first instance they would be driving the funding for, and establishment of, the centre, and then going on to advise on important considerations like gaps in professions and the workforce, needs for further course development (and more).”
Ms Nelmes said elected committee representatives would be encouraged to sit on GUC’s Geraldton Institute board to have a local voice and decision-making powers.
Geraldton Universities Centre staff Brendan Penzer and Natalie Nelmes in Karratha earlier this year, with St Luke's College students Brock Crowhurst, 14, and Toby Mason, 15.