Official launch of Great Southern Universities Centre sees study hub on course for growth

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The Great Southern Universities Centre in Albany officially opened on Wednesday.
Camera IconThe Great Southern Universities Centre in Albany officially opened on Wednesday. Credit: Kellie Balaam

More than 100 students are already making use of the Great Southern Universities Centre and City of Albany Mayor Dennis Wellington says the centre will need to expand to cope with demand.

The centre — which opened to students in April — was officially launched last week by Federal Regional Development and Territories Assistant Minister Nola Marino.

The Federal Government provided $1.4 million to establish the GSUC as one of 26 centres across the country as part of the Government’s Regional University Centre program.

The campus provides the region’s tertiary students enrolled in online learning with a university campus-style facility with access to computers, video conferencing and a full-time learning support co-ordinator.

It also gives online students an opportunity to mingle with their peers and seek professional help with their studies.

The centre currently supports 110 students.

GSUC student Amy Coetzer was invited on stage by Mrs Marino to speak about how the centre had helped her achieve her education goals.

“The support I was able to receive and just having a place away from home where you can separate study from personal life, makes a huge difference,” Ms Coetzer said.

“The study hub was truly instrumental in my final few months of uni.”

Fellow student Ashlyn Spaanderman, who is studying early childhood and primary teaching online with Murdoch University, shared similar views.

“It’s been great. It offers so much support so you don’t feel alone,” she said.

“When I originally began external study I didn’t want to sit at home behind a computer. Coming here there are other people studying similar things and I can talk to them about it.”

Assistant Minister for Regional Development and Territories Nola Marino and GSUC student Amy Coetzer.
Camera IconAssistant Minister for Regional Development and Territories Nola Marino and GSUC student Amy Coetzer. Credit: Kellie Balaam/Kellie Balaam

Ms Spaanderman said she had previously thought about moving to Perth for her studies but now she did not have to.

GSUC director Mike Eastman said the centre was working with universities from across the country to help students achieve their academic goals.

“While our facilities and support are available to all higher education students, regardless of their degree or university, we have also undertaken a further step towards supporting local nursing students through Curtin University, which will ensure the Great Southern region can train and retain the highest-quality nurses for our hospitals within the region,” Mr Eastman said.

Mrs Marino said the Albany centre would help support industry and business in the region to address skills shortages.

Providing educational opportunities for students in the Great Southern will lead to more students studying and working in the community, and therefore creating a stronger region,

she said.

Mr Wellington also spoke at the official launch, voicing his opinion on the potential for expansion of the hub.

With more than 500 students studying externally, Mr Wellington said it was “obviously not big enough” and that expanding the centre was key.

“This town is growing, everyone is enjoying the fact the education part of it is growing exponentially,” he said.

“We need to continue with that and continue on with the opportunity for kids to get jobs and education here.”

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