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Newly funded study hubs to look to GUC for inspiration

Blossoming study hubs across Australia will look to Geraldton Universities Centre this week to learn how to run a regional university.

The GUC is hosting about 40 decision-makers from the newly funded hubs, which are sharing a $24.2 million Commonwealth investment to get up and running over the next four years.

The hubs will base their structure on the GUC model, whereby the centre partners with traditional learning institutions, including CQ University, University of Southern Queensland and Curtin University, and teaches their courses locally to Geraldton students.

GUC director Natalie Nelmes said hub representatives would learn how to support their regions, including determining what kind of jobs a community needed and to match courses to suit.

“We’ll also be providing a tour of the GUC and also a talk on the evolution of the GUC,” she said.

“I hope our visitors gain inspiration but also practical strategies they can implement back in their own communities.”

The GUC, which teaches about 300 students a year, was born from the needs of frustrated youth in the late 1990s who were hampered by the lack of university access in the Mid West.

An action group successfully lobbied the Federal Government for regional university places, leading to the opening of a Geraldton-based facility in 2006.

Four years later, the GUC became an independent non-profit organisation and has since flourished with the support of $5.85 million in funding from Royalties for Regions, the Regional Development Council and the Australian Government.

Earlier this year, Ms Nelmes described GUC as a means of keeping educated and qualified people in regional communities, rather than students leaving for the metropolitan area after high school.

Geraldton Universities Centre’s two-day conference will touch on the perspective of a GUC student, expectations traditional universities have of hubs, administration and finance, and the online learning experience.

The event will include the launch of a Deloitte-run research project into the effectiveness of regional universities. The Regional Study Hub Conference will begin on Thursday morning and end on Friday afternoon.

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