Taree Universities Campus (TUC) will begin delivering courses in the first semester of next year following an announcement from Dr David Gillespie and the TUC board today, June 1.
The announcement came after funding was secured for the new multi-million dollar campus through the Australian Government's Regional University Centres program.
Dr Gillespie said it was a magnificent day for the region.
"Many people have been wondering if we would ever get a uni campus, and today I'm pleased to announce we will be getting one that will begin operating next year," the Federal member for Lyne said.
"It will deliver enormous social and economic benefits for our region for many years and decades to come."
Dr Gillespie said the campus would form partnerships with a number of universities and TAFE to offer a range of courses that delivered a combination of face-to-face and distance learning.
"Essentially, school leavers and mature age students will be able to complete their tertiary studies locally with the various levels of academic and pastoral support the new campus will offer," he said.
The development of the successful funding application came after Dr Gillespie formed a steering committee in 2019 featuring local school principals, business, industry, council, community and academic representatives.
Following this, a new entity called the Taree Universities Campus was established.
"From there, a board was appointed of local people with experience and backgrounds in academia, business, industry and community, and together with members of the steering committee, we were all able to put together a fairly comprehensive submission," Dr Gillespie said.
Chairman of the TUC board, John Howard, said he envisaged the campus would offer an extensive range of courses.
These are likely to include a Bachelor of Nursing, Bachelor of Construction Management, Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Business Management, Bachelor Accounting, Bachelor Agri-Business, Bachelor of Environmental Science, Bachelor Early Childhood, Primary and Secondary Education and an Associate Degree in Engineering.
Mr Howard said these courses had proved the most in demand among surveys of the local community.
Charles Sturt University nursing student and former Forster resident, Bryony Sudell, said the announcement was positive for any local people wanting to pursue tertiary education.
"I've recently had to relocate to Port Macquarie in order to study my degree," Ms Sudell said.
"I think Taree University Campus is going to be just great for students that have to relocate and now they won't have to, they'll be able to stay with their families."
Dr Gillespie said TUC would operate as a community-based non-profit entity that would rely on a combination of Commonwealth funding, community and in-kind donations.
"Now that Federal funding has been approved to assist with the establishment of the Taree Universities Campus, the board can now negotiate a formal funding agreement with the Commonwealth Department of Education, Skills and Employment," Dr Gillespie said.
"That agreement will provide assistance for the establishment of the campus and its facilities, together with dedicated Commonwealth Supported Places.
"Since we announced this initiative, there has been a wonderful response, including locals wanting to donate books and equipment and others offering to volunteer at the campus, including former academics. It's been fantastic!"
Thank you for valuing local journalism with your subscription. While you're with us, you can also receive updates straight to your inbox from the Great Lakes Advocate. To make sure you're up to date with all the news, sign up here.