Benefits of a Country Universities Centre
The Country Universities Centre model delivers on the need to provide local higher education opportunities for a regional and rural community with a higher than average proportion of low socio-economic students. In doing so:
- students can remain living in the local area while undertaking further education, so as to reduce the migration of intellectual and economic capital from the local area to urban areas;
- obtaining a university education is potentially cheaper for students who can be academically and administratively supported by the CUC and no longer have to relocate and find expensive accommodation in distant urban or large regional centres ;
- local businesses and government facilities can access people with university qualifications locally, without having to design incentive packages to attract those people to the local community from outside the area;
- the CUC is an additional participant in the educational community of local schools, TAFE and RTO’s, and an interface between students (current and past) and local employers of graduates;
- students can design university research tasks around local challenges and opportunities, to the benefit of the whole community; and
- the local region will be a more attractive place to live in.
Two important features of the 'Country Universities Centre' model are:
The Centre has the potential to aggregate all students in the region who are studying distance education at any Australian university. Rural educational opportunities are often stifled by the lack of a critical mass of students to justify provision of suitable opportunities and support. By offering support for any higher education student studying from any Australian university, the CUC aggregates students from all universities so as to be able to overcome obstacles of “thin markets” in the provision of facilities, technology and staff necessary to assist those students.
- The Centre splits the ownership and management of a campus from the delivery of education on that campus. At the CUC, the community operates the campus and can administer and manage that campus specifically to the benefit of the local community and students. The many individual universities then deliver their education at the campus. This division not only permits campus support to be provided across all local students of the different universities, it also encourages:
- the community to determine the manner in which it might strategically partner up with particular universities focussed on providing high quality distance education in a regional context to go that extra mile;
- local people to have the opportunity to be mentors to particular students within the discipline of their study;
- the business community to support local students through local work placements, practicums, and holiday and part time employment opportunities;
- the support of a local foundation for student financial assistance, in the knowledge the donations will stay with students locally; and
- the broader community to participate in its own local higher education facility through ceremonies, open days and guest visits.