The Country Universities Centre (CUC) Parkes was today officially opened. The event was headlined by several important guests including the Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack; the Minister for Regional Education, Andrew Gee and Parkes Mayor Cr Ken Keith OAM, who joined the local CUC Board and community members to celebrate the opening of the Centre.
The CUC Parkes is housed in the brand-new Parkes Shire Council library on Bogan Street. The new-state-of-the-art library provides the perfect co-location to foster a positive learning space and create a vibrant environment for local students to focus on their studies.
The Australian Government has committed $505,000 to establish the centre, which will be a hub for students to access study spaces and technology including computers and video conferencing equipment to assist with their studies.
Member for Riverina and Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said the CUC Parkes was a dedicated study space which would allow students enrolled at any Australian university to have free access to high-speed internet, modern technology, and wraparound student support.
"Students who register with CUC Parkes will have the opportunity to mix with like-minded individuals and receive support locally, without having to leave their friends, and loved ones behind to pursue their higher education dreams," Mr McCormack said.
“I have always had the firm belief that your postcode should not determine your potential and that everyone deserves the opportunity to pursue their passion and receive a quality education.
“This new facility will maximise opportunities for existing residents as well as for the expected influx of people to the growing regional centre and will enable students of all ages to further their education without having to leave the area.
“I am proud to have advocated for the establishment of a CUC in Parkes and I am pleased to be here today to see it come to fruition.
"Congratulations to all involved."
Minister for Decentralisation and Regional Education Andrew Gee said Country University Centres were an integral part of the Government’s focus on boosting regional tertiary education.
“Young Australians who live in our major cities are twice as likely to be university educated as regional students,” Minister Gee said.
“Country University Centres help level the playing field to address that disparity.
“We want more people in regional communities like Parkes to be able to engage in tertiary education while remaining in their local area, developing skills and qualifications that will help them secure local jobs.
"That is why the Australian Government has invested $74.2 million for the Regional University Centres program to date, to help higher education students stay in their communities and ultimately lead to the growth of local economies in regional and remote Australia."
The Hon Sam Farraway MLC said that the NSW Government had backed the expansion of the CUC model since 2017.
"We've seen the CUC model grow, in NSW, from one Centre in Cooma to six Centres in 2019 in regional communities like Parkes," Mr Farraway said.
"The CUC has supported close to 2,000 regional students since its inception. This semester alone, the CUC has registered more than 790 students across its network, and the CUC Parkes will be adding to these figures from today.
"Regional students deserve the same opportunity as those in metro areas. This Centre helps level the playing field."
CUC CEO, Duncan Taylor, acknowledged the significant contributions towards the establishment and operations of the CUC Parkes from all three levels of Government.
"We are very grateful for the support we've received. Without the State and Federal funding, the CUC Parkes would still be a pipe dream," Mr Taylor said.
"Importantly, our CUCs are community-driven and managed. We also want to thank and recognise the Parkes community to which this Centre belongs, and acknowledge the Parkes Shire Council's contribution and drive to co-locate in its new library.
"Without our community champions, the volunteer board members, our amazing Centre Manager we wouldn't be here celebrating today."
Parkes Mayor Cr Ken Keith OAM expressed his appreciation to both State and Federal Government for their funding contributions.
"We applaud the State and Federal Governments for supporting our Community's Strategic vision for lifelong learning. The Parkes Library and Cultural Centre now truly embraces this notion by providing access to education from birth through to tertiary studies to support those who are wanting to further their education.
Council looks forward to working with the Parkes CUC Board to ensure our community leverages these tertiary opportunities to gain new skills and qualifications and build capacity within our local and regional workforce," Cr Keith said.
With the announcement of Regional University Centres funding in June of this year, the CUC will open six Centres, across seven new locations, starting with CUC Parkes. The CUC's network will expand in regional New South Wales, regional Queensland and regional Victoria. The new CUCs include Macleay Valley (Kempsey), Southern Shoalhaven (Ulladulla), Maranoa (Roma), Balonne (St George and Dirranbandi) and Bass Coast (Wonthaggi), all scheduled to open in 2021.
To find out more information about CUC Parkes, please visit: www.cucparkes.edu.au
To find out more information about the CUC, please visit: www.cuc.edu.au