Every Australian, no matter where they live, should have access to a world class education to help them reach their full potential.
The Australian Government is investing $53.2 million in Regional University Centres to enable students in rural, regional and remote Australia to access higher education without having to leave their community.
What is a Regional University Centre?
A Regional University Centre is a facility or hub that allows regional students to study tertiary courses in their local communities. Centres are based in a variety of convenient locations to meet the needs of students, teachers and the community.
Some may be part of community centres and others operate from their own buildings. The Murray Bridge Centre in Riverland and Murraylands, shares space with TAFE South Australia and the Wuyagiba Regional Study Hub in remote South-East Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory, has glamping-style tents serving as open air classrooms, student dorms and staff accommodation.
The Centres partner with tertiary institutions to support the delivery of courses at the Centres or in the students’ workplace. Students can access quiet study spaces, computers and academic support services provided by Centres.
Where are they?
There are currently 16 Regional University Centres located in rural, regional and remote locations of each state and the Northern Territory. It is anticipated a further five Centres will be announced shortly and will be operational by 2021.
What are the benefits?
The main benefits are that students can choose to study at a Centre instead of leaving their local communities. Leaving to study and live in metropolitan areas can bring personal challenges for students, and means the potential loss of skills from regional communities.
Regional University Centres in the Northern Territory
Regional University Centres, like those in Galiwin’ku and Nhulunbuy in the Northern Territory are proving to be very popular and successful with students.
‘Yolngu people at our Regional University Centres want to remain in their community for their studies. They enjoy the support and personal mentoring provided by our education trainers who live in the same area. We’re employing Yolngu Mentors to support students and help drive community engagement,’ says Rebecca Arbon, Higher Education Manager for Arnhem Land Progress Aboriginal (ALPA) Corporation.
ALPA is a Registered Training Organisation and has been providing higher education pathways in Arnhem Land for 47 years. ALPA manages two Regional University Centres in Galiwin’ku and Nhulunbuy, located in East Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory, with another Centre planned to open in Ramingining this year.
Since the establishment of the Centres mid-way through 2019, 62 students have enrolled. Students can study for Certificates, Diplomas and Degrees. ALPA partners with Charles Darwin University and the Bachelor Institute to deliver their courses at the Centres.
‘For many of our students, English is their third, fourth or fifth language. Our education trainers help them with academic, literacy and numeracy skills – the skills that are covered in preparation courses,’ says Rebecca.
Importantly, the Centres reflect the needs of the community they serve, including the cultural needs of the local community and the training required by local industry and businesses.
‘Students are enrolled in Certificate II through to Diplomas in health, business, education and child care, the skills our employers need. We’ll have degrees in nursing and education available later this year which is exciting.
This is a long-term journey for us. We’re working with our partners to provide more choices in education, so those students who dream of becoming doctors, lawyers and teachers in their communities, have the opportunity to do so. I think this will be a game changer for our people,’ says Rebecca.
At the time of writing, ALPA Centres are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Centres are continuing to support students as needed.