Study hub to benefit students, business and community

The Murray River Regional Study Hub will start in July, making tertiary studies available to everyone in the Murraylands
The Murray River Regional Study Hub will start in July, making tertiary studies available to everyone in the Murraylands

The Murray River Regional Study Hub will benefit not only those who choose to study, but business, industry and the wider community too.

The study hub – which will provide study spaces, internet access, video conferencing, and administrative, pastoral and academic support for those in the Murraylands – will be located at the Murray Bridge TAFE campus and is taking its first intake of students in July.

Currently only 6.3 per cent people in the region pursue higher education. We anticipate this could reach 10pc over the next decade, with the study hub helping overcome the “brain drain”.

Too many of our youth leave the Murraylands believing they need a city life to achieve their dreams. That’s no longer true. They can now get their degree without relocating to the city or travelling a long distance from home. They don’t need to resign from their part-time jobs or give up their sporting commitments.

Research shows around 30-40pc of regional students fail to complete their first year of study, with many struggling to adapt to living away from home.

Relocating to a metropolitan city to study or commuting is cost prohibitive for many young people and their families, as well as mature age students. With the cost of supporting a child at university cited as about $30,000 per annum, sometimes this just isn’t feasible.

With improved accessibility to study, we are confident the Murray River Regional Study Hub will overcome these issues. The hub will also bring with it unprecedented career opportunities for mature age students, as they will be able to career change or upskill for their current role without leaving the region.This means mature age students can juggle part-time tertiary studies with work and family lives. 

We are having proactive conversations with business and industry to help them take advantage of the hub to support their employees’ development. The study hub will create real pathways to employment in our region, help workers change or progress their careers, and help meet local labour market demands.

Partner organisations – the Rural City of Murray Bridge, TAFE SA, and RDA Murraylands and Riverland – have worked to attract two world-class universities, Flinders University and Central Queensland University, which will offer degrees that can be completed at the hub. These universities have demonstrated an understanding of South Australian and regional education requirements, and can equip students with skills to meet workforce shortages or demand.

Regional Universities Network, of which Central Queensland University is part, reports that 70pc of its graduates are employed in a regional area. This shows an education obtained in the Murraylands is beneficial to sustaining a young population compared to one completed outside the region.

While the study hub’s course offerings are yet to be determined, we’re expecting nearly 100 courses to be available. Data collected by industry and partner organisations last year showed strong interest in business, science, education and arts-related courses and we will be surveying year 12 students across the region early this year as well, to help select the study hub’s course offerings.

Locals will be able to study any online courses offered through Flinders University and Central Queensland University, not just those offered locally, meaning they maintain the ability to work and support themselves financially while studying.

It’s not only tertiary educations available at the study hub, with VET courses also being offered as well as alternate pathways into university for those without ATAR rankings or rankings that don’t meet the current entry requirements.

For more information about the Murray River Regional Study Hub, contact RDA Murraylands and Riverland on (08) 8535 7170 or visit our team at 137 Adelaide Road. 

Jo Podoliak, CEO, Regional Development Australia Murraylands and Riverland