The Country Universities Centre (CUC) Parkes was officially opened last Friday, giving prospective students in the region the opportunity to study here in Parkes instead of relocating.
The CUC was made possible thanks to $505,000 worth of funding from the Australian government, and features a dedicated study space which allows students enrolled at any Australian university to have free access to high-speed internet, modern technology, and wraparound student support.
After a Welcome to Country by Geoff Anderson from the Parkes Wiradjuri Language Group, Member for Riverina and Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack extolled the huge benefits of the CUC.
"Students who register with CUC Parkes will have the opportunity to mix with like-minded individuals and receive support locally, without having to leave their friends and loved ones behind to pursue their higher education dreams," Mr McCormack said.
For the current federal government, it is clear that regional development is a huge focus, and Parkes is one of the beneficiaries, with the Special Activation Precinct, Inland Rail and now the CUC providing huge opportunites.
Minister for Decentralisation and Regional Education Andrew Gee said CUC's were an integral part of the Government's focus on boosting regional tertiary education.
"Young Australians who live in our major cities are twice as likely to be university educated as regional students, and these Country Universities Centres help level the playing field to address that disparity," Minister Gee said.
"We want more people in regional communities like Parkes to be able to engage in tertiary education while remaining in their local area, developing skills and qualifications that will help them secure local jobs.
The journey to having a CUC in Parkes started two years ago, when Parkes Mayor Ken Keith OAM travelled down to Cooma with a cohort of Councillors to inspect the Cooma CUC, and see whether it was a model that would work for Parkes.
After an initial attempt at establishing tertiary education in Parkes many year ago, Cr Keith is confident the CUC model was ideal for the region and embraces the Council's philosophy.
"The Parkes Library and Cultural Centre now truly embraces this notion by providing access to education from birth through to tertiary studies to support those who are wanting to further their education," said Cr Keith.
The CUC model in NSW has grown from one Centre in Cooma to six Centres in 2019 and has supported close to 2,000 regional students since its inception.
This semester alone, the CUC has registered more than 790 students across its network, and the CUC Parkes will now be adding to these figures.
For more information, head to www.cucparkes.edu.au.
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