UNIVER­SITY PLANS FOR MARANOA

LEARN­ING HUB: A Coun­try Uni­ver­si­ties Cen­tre has been pro­posed

The Western Star - - Front Page - James Liveris [email protected]­ern­starnews.com

SCHOL­ARS may never have to leave the re­gion to achieve their full aca­demic po­ten­tial with a coun­try cam­pus on the cards for the Maranoa.

Maranoa Re­gional Coun­cil was ap­proached by the Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Queens­land of­fice with a pro­posal that has the po­ten­tial to ben­e­fit the re­gion for the fore­see­able fu­ture.

The plan is for a Coun­try Uni­ver­si­ties Cen­tre to be es­tab­lished in Roma.

Mayor Tyson Golder said it was a “no-brainer” to bring those op­por­tu­ni­ties to the west. “We want a univer­sity here,” Cr Golder said. “The vote was unan­i­mous, the ben­e­fits for the re­gion would be astro­nom­i­cal.

“This pro­posal will pro­vide res­i­dents who are at a dis­tance dis­ad­van­tage with more op­por­tu­ni­ties to study.”

UNIVER­SITY may no longer be out reach for Maranoa res­i­dents with plans for a Coun­try Uni­ver­si­ties Cen­tre to be es­tab­lished in Roma.

At the last Maranoa coun­cil meet­ing, the Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Queens­land of­fice ap­proached coun­cil with the propo­si­tion of col­lab­o­rat­ing with them in the es­tab­lish­ment of a Coun­try Uni­ver­si­ties Cen­tre.

Mayor Tyson Golder said it was a “no-brainer” for se­cur­ing a brighter fu­ture for the re­gion.

“We want a univer­sity here,” Cr Golder said.

“The vote was unan­i­mous, the ben­e­fits for the re­gion would be astro­nom­i­cal.

“Be­ing re­mote is a dis­ad­van­tage when it comes to ed­u­ca­tion and the more we can bal­ance it the more op­por­tu­ni­ties we can pro­vide res­i­dents to study.”

The con­cept has ex­isted in New South Wales for five years with sev­eral re­gional cen­tres hav­ing suc­cess in­clud­ing Cooma, Grafton and Broken Hill.

Af­ter re­ceiv­ing the pre­sen­ta­tion, the coun­cil voted to re­quest a re­port in or­der to con­sider for­mal­is­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the con­cept as part of its op­er­a­tional plan for 2019–20.

The cam­pus will be in part­ner­ship with uni­ver­si­ties through­out Aus­tralia, not just one in­sti­tu­tion.

Eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment coun­cil­lor Cameron O’Neil said coun­cil was ex­cited about the con­cept of a coun­try univer­sity cen­tre.

“Coun­cil has been work­ing for a num­ber of years more in the vo­ca­tional train­ing space, look­ing at how we make the Maranoa an ed­u­ca­tion hub and this was one of the key ini­tia­tives that came out the Toowoomba Su­rat Basin Enterprise study tour to Amer­ica and Canada back in 2013,” Cr O’Neil said.

“We were pleas­antly sur­prised and ex­cited by this con­cept com­ing from the Eco­nomic and De­vel­op­ment Queens­land, they brought this to coun­cil to show how suc­cess­ful these coun­try uni­ver­si­ties have been go­ing across NSW.

“There is still a lot of wa­ter un­der the bridge but ul­ti­mately what we have agreed to is a pre-fea­si­bil­ity re­port that will iron out all the de­tail but con­cep­tu­ally we would have a lo­ca­tion in town whether it be a new site or utilise an ex­ist­ing build­ing to cre­ate the univer­sity hub.”

Cr O’Neil said it would al­low for stu­dents to study closer to home, and would pre­vent a brain drain by re­mov­ing the tyranny of dis­tance.

“If we can cre­ate a learn­ing space here to keep kids out of school to stay in the re­gion and not move to Bris­bane or Toowoomba to do their stud­ies it will fur­ther al­low long-term res­i­dents to em­u­late that, which is a win-win for us and our com­mu­nity and it also adds to our live­abil­ity,” he said. The pre-fea­si­bil­ity study will be pre­sented to coun­cil be­fore Christ­mas.

PHOTO: TIM HOWARD

LEARN­ING HUB: Build­ing own­ers The Smidt fam­ily, which pro­posed their build­ing for a Coun­try Univer­sity Cen­tre in Grafton, have seen the ed­u­ca­tion hub flour­ish.

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