Regional university study hubs expansion welcomed

Published: 19th July 2023

The peak body representing Queensland’s councils has welcomed the Federal Government’s announcement of 20 new regional university study hubs.

Federal Education Minister Jason Clare announced $66.9 million to establish 20 Regional University Study Hubs and 14 in suburban centres in areas without a significant physical university campus and where the percentage of the population with university qualifications is low.

Locations will be determined through an independent process run by the Department of Education.

They add to the 34 Regional University Centres already established nationally, which will now also be known as Regional University Study Hubs, providing students with access to computer terminals, high speed internet, video conferencing as well as access to academic support.

Representing councils across Australia’s most decentralised state, Local Government Association of Queensland chief executive officer Alison Smith said educational opportunities were a critical part of improving liveability.

“Regional university centres mean country kids don’t have to leave home to study and workers can upskill without leaving their communities,” Ms Smith said.

“That helps build a critical mass of skilled people in our towns and regions, making them more vibrant places to live.

“Our members have been grappling with serious workforce challenges but they know when you can teach and train your own locally, they are more likely to stay in that community and give back to their community.

“With people living in regional Queensland less than half as likely to gain a bachelor qualification compared to their metropolitan counterparts, Queensland councils have championed the cause of rural, remote and Indigenous communities deserving quality opportunities to pursue study opportunities without the need to relocate.”

The LGAQ looks forward to Queensland being positively reviewed through the process to evaluate the new regional university centre sites, given it is the most decentralised state in Australia and grapples with the tyranny of distance on a daily basis.

“At the LGAQ’s Annual Conference in 2022, councils from across the state voted overwhelmingly in favour of the LGAQ seeking a financial commitment from the Federal Government to support the establishment of more centres to cater for regional, rural and remote regions experiencing the need for retaining, developing, and attracting a skilled workforce,” Ms Smith said.

“We know this model works and thank the Federal Government for recognising its success.

“This commitment means more universities coming to country students instead of the other way around.”

For more information, please contact:
Dan Knowles, LGAQ Media Advisor