Spencer Gulf councils push for university hub

Councils of the Spencer Gulf in South Australia are pushing for the South Australian government to commit to a program to create university study centres across the region as a way to create a strong local employment base instead of fly-in-fly-out workers.

Whyalla Mayor Lyn Breuer said as the economy of the Upper Spencer Gulf transitions, the region needs to have a strong local workforce with the right qualifications.

“Our three cities have all suffered from an increase in ‘fly-in, fly-out’ professional and technical workforce and if not addressed, it will be an impediment to our future growth and economic diversification”, said Mayor Breuer.

“We need to make the facilities and support available locally to give school-leavers and adult learners the best opportunity to finish their tertiary studies and to be part of the long-term success and vibrancy of our regional cities.”

“Ultimately, we want to see an expansion of higher education courses and research successfully delivered in the region, not just delivered to our region.”

Mayor Breuer was speaking after meeting with the South Australian Minister for Education Susan Close and Minister for Manufacturing and Innovation Kyam Mayor. Mayor Breuer was attending the meeting as a member of the Spencer Gulf Cities Association which includes the mayors of Port Augusta and Port Pirie.

The association is requesting the South Australia Government to reconsider providing support to upgrade and access parts of the disused TAFE buildings in Whyalla, Port Augusta and Port Pirie by the Upper Spencer Gulf Community Owned Tertiary Education Centre (COTEC).

Mayor Breuer said the COTEC is “not about competing with existing institutions, but simply about giving our Upper Spencer Gulf community greater access and the best chance of success in high education.”

Port Augusta Mayor, and chair of the Spencer Gulf Cities Association, Sam Johnson said representatives from the Upper Spencer Gulf had been campaigning for this initiative over a number of years with strong support from industry which can see the benefits of having locally available and locally relevant training.

“On average there are around 2500 students from the Upper Spencer Gulf and environs enrolled in vocational undergraduate and postgraduate study every year with many of these enrolments for online courses or based within capital city universities,” Mayor Johnson said.

“Our aim is establish a hub where students studying a range of courses at a range of different universities can come together locally with the tutorial and student support they need to help them succeed.”

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