The Coalition Government’s Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) is set to play a vital role in supporting CQUniversity Australia (CQU) through the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia Keith Pitt said a NAIF loan of up to $76 million will secure the planned capital works and upgrades to digital infrastructure over the next two years at Australia’s largest regional university.
“This is a great example of how crucial the NAIF will be to Northern Australia as we emerge from the coronavirus pandemic,” Minister Pitt said.
“This funding decision will support over 400 direct and indirect jobs, save another 200 jobs in regional areas, and future-proof remote learning.
“NAIF support for the capital and infrastructure programs at CQUniversity will ensure this crucial institution will be able to continue to deliver quality higher education courses to students around the country, particularly in remote centres across northern Australia,” Minister Pitt said.
“Without support, the capital works and digital upgrades at CQU were are risk. But with NAIF’s investment, the University can now plan for the next two years and be ready to welcome back more international students as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Minister for Education Dan Tehan said the NAIF loan would ensure CQUniversity could continue to support future skills needed in regional Queensland.
“The CQUniversity upgrades will deliver world-class facilities and technology in the regions, support the education of the workforces of tomorrow, and drive future economic growth as we recover from COVID-19,” Mr Tehan said.
“Our Government is building the capacity of universities in regional and rural areas to strengthen investment in their local economies, and ensure more regional, rural and Indigenous students have the opportunity to access our world-class higher education system.
“The Federal Government is providing $225.2 million in funding to CQU in 2020, this is an increase of $45.1 million since 2013. Our Government has also committed $30 million to CQU between 2020 and 2023 towards the construction of the CQU School of Mining and Manufacturing.”
Assistant Minister for Northern Australia Michelle Landry visited the CQU campus in Cairns today and said the University was a unique institution, with facilities spread out around the country, including Bundaberg, Townsville, Gladstone, Mackay, Emerald and Rockhampton.
“The NAIF loans will ensure the digital infrastructure can continue to support CQU’s 3,000 staff and deliver quality education and training to around 36,000 students, many of who are based in rural and remote areas of central Queensland,” Assistant Minister Landry said.
“The NAIF support is also crucial to the CQU’s post COVID recovery plans and will help develop the university’s remote-learning capabilities, which will be even more important as the world recovers from the pandemic.”
Federal Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch said he welcomes CQU’s access to the NAIF and this will make a significant improvement to their provision of digital services right throughout their network.
“This will certainly provide an opportunity to build capacity for their students and give them access to world class technology.”
“I also see this is as a steppingstone for the next project which is the CQU purpose-built City Campus which I have been working closely with CQU and the Cairns Regional Council on” Warren Entsch said.
North Queensland-based Senator, Susan McDonald, said she had recently been shown CQU’s work on regional development.
“Developing the regions is a major priority for the Federal Government, so it makes sense that we partner with CQU to ensure they can continue researching and advising on the transport, business and agricultural infrastructure needed to create jobs and boost prosperity outside our major cities,” she said.
CQU Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Nick Klomp said the NAIF loan would allow the University to deliver on activities planned prior to the impacts of COVID-19.
“CQUniversity plays a very important role within the communities we serve,” Professor Klomp said.
“It is vital, that CQUniversity is able to deliver on critical infrastructure projects in order to support our regions in the post-COVID economic recovery process. This loan will allow us to do that.
“Investing in capital projects creates jobs and opportunities and helps to ensure we can continue to deliver exceptional services, training and education to our students."