Expanding the reach of higher education
COUNTRY Universities Centre and La Trobe University have formed a partnership to improve access to higher education in regional areas.
The CUC is a community driven organisation with 18 centres around Australia overseen by locals to provide support to regional students studying off-campus.
CEO of CUC Chris Ronan said working with La Trobe would mean more opportunities for students in regional Victoria.
“Any student from any university, studying any degree can come in and get face to face support, a learning community of students from within their own community and start to really establish connections and normalise higher education,” said Mr Ronan.
The initiative is supported by tertiary institutions around the country, which help the CUC support students to navigate enrolment and academic processes.
The opening of a new centre in Swan Hill had seen a lot of new students enrol in higher education because it had made it possible for them to actively engage in regular study.
“These are people who never would have come to university before because they’re established in those communities, they’ve got kids or caring responsibilities,” he said.
Mr Ronan said one aim of the CUC is to provide place-based, face to face support that empowers people to access higher education in a way that does not feel isolating.
La Trobe Pro Vice-Chancellor Melanie Bish said she was thrilled to be onboard because it was important for La Trobe to make their programs more accessible to students.
“As a university we’re committed to the economic social and cultural development of rural and regional communities.
“And we understand the importance of members of our communities to be able to access higher education and upskill themselves for the workforce,” said Ms Bish.
Ms Bish said the partnership with CUC was important because they have infrastructure in place to provide stable internet access and other telecommunication resources.
“So students can actually stay in community but have a greater level of assurance around the resources that they’ve got to help them engage with their studies,” Ms Bish said.