Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Smarter Regions, Smarter Australia

CQUniversity is a part of the Regional Universities Network (RUN). For those of you who aren’t aware of what RUN is it is a network of universities (CQUniversity, University of Southern Queensland, Sunshine Coast University, Southern Cross University, University of New England and University of Ballarat) that are all headquartered in major regional areas of Australia. Combined these universities educate more than 110 000 students per year, with more than 40 per cent of these students are enrolled externally.

The universities that make up this network share a common goal of providing first class higher education programs to communities based in regional areas, as well as to students who require the flexibility that distance education offers. These universities provide opportunities for people based in regional areas to access higher education where they otherwise might not have had the chance.

Even though not often recognised, the impact of regional universities is immense and that is why last week the Chairman of RUN Professor David Battersby, launched a policy statement entitled Smarter Regions, Smarter Australia.

This policy statement deals with unlocking the full human potential of regional Australia by providing greater opportunities for higher education in regional areas. As I always say, those who study local are more likely stay local after they graduate – meaning whole communities can benefit from the skills learned and the creation of new jobs.

With two thirds of the nation’s economic assets and productivity located outside capital cities I don’t think I need to explain how important this concept is. Empowering regional universities will not only ensure greater access to higher education, but so to the social and economic sustainability of Australia in years to come.

Along with future-proofing regional Australia and equipping communities with vital skills, regional universities also have an economic impact equal to the entire Australian clothing/textile and footwear industry or tourism generated by the Great Barrier Reef. To put it simply regional universities generate and contribute in excess of $2 billion per annum, directly to regional communities.

Some of the statistics highlighted as part of this policy statement are staggering. I found it interesting, not just as a Vice-Chancellor of a regional university but as a resident of Australia.

I thoroughly recommend reviewing policy statement– whether you live in in outback Australia or a high-rise in Melbourne’s CBD. I hope it will highlight just how instrumental regional universities are in contributing to the social and economic wellbeing of both regional Australia and our nation as a whole.

Click here to find out more.

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