Minister Visits CUC Western Riverina to see Country Universities Centre Model in action
04 Feb 2021
The NSW Minister for Tertiary Education and Skills, Geoff Lee, visited the CUC Country Universities Centre (CUC) Western Riverina to meet with students, and CUC team members, to learn more about how the CUC model operates.
The CUC Western Riverina was the sixth CUC to open its doors and has been operating for over a year. So far, the Centre has supported more than 213 students from 28 different Australian universities at its Griffith and Leeton locations.
Local CUC Western Riverina Chair, John Dal Broi, who has been involved with the Centre since it opened in October 2019, said that the Centre is an outstanding initiative, and it is substantially outperforming government expectations.
“We were extremely proud that the Minister chose to visit the CUC Western Riverina,” Mr Dal Broi said.
“When we started, we had hoped for 45 students in our first year but last year 178 students were supported by the Centre.
We were able to show the Minister how the CUC model works, he was able to meet with current students and students who have completed their courses, and we were able to highlight the wrap-around support students receive from our Centre Manager and Learning Skills Advisor.
We know from the last census that 11% of the Griffith region hold a bachelor’s degree or above qualification, and around Leeton the figure was 9.6%. By comparison, the NSW average in 2016 was 23.4%. We need to improve those figures and we are.
48% of our students are the first in their family to undertake higher education studies. We are shifting the dial to ensure that more students can achieve their higher education dreams locally and the knowledge they gain will boost our economy.
Our CUC Western Riverina students did an excellent job presenting the challenges they face, but also how they have succeeded in their higher education journeys.”
The NSW Government recently released its Higher Education strategy on 28 January 2021. It has a focus on ensuring a wider participation in quality higher education, with a view to increasing participation of underrepresented regions and equity groups.
Also, in attendance was the CUC’s CEO, Duncan Taylor, who said the Minister’s visit was incredibly timely given the release of the Higher Education Strategy.
“The strategy will focus on increasing participation across NSW and we showed the Minister how the CUC Western Riverina and the CUC model is raising student aspirations and supporting students as they study.
We look forward to working with the NSW Government as they implement the Higher Education Strategy and learning more about how the CUC can assist the Government in achieving outcomes for regional higher education students in NSW.
Excitingly, the CUC Western Riverina is the first Centre in our Network to expand its facility, and the Minister was able to see how through our co-funded partnerships our model can grow to meet the increasing demand students have for our centres.”
Mr Taylor said that the CUC was delighted to receive praise from the recently released Legislative Council’s report on the future development of the NSW tertiary education sector.
“Having the Education Committee recognise the importance of the work that occurs daily across our network was incredibly rewarding,” Mr Taylor said.
The CUC was thrilled to feature in two recommendations.
“We remain very grateful for the funding from both the NSW Government and the Commonwealth Government. It was pleasing to showcase how those funds have been invested to improve the futures of communities like Griffith and Leeton.”
Mr Taylor concluded by acknowledging the hard-working volunteer board members of all Centres across the CUC Network, and the amazing Centre staff and the students who use the Centres and resources who all combine to make the CUC a success.
“I’m thrilled that the Minister got to meet the people involved in the growth and successes of CUC Western Riverina. The CUC team is growing in numbers, in confidence and in capacity as the CUC emerges as a driver in regional education. The commitment and passion of CUC Western Riverina staff like Erin and Ellen is key to students reaching their potential,” Mr Taylor said
To read more about the CUC model, please visit: www.cuc.ed.au