Our Story

Who we are

We create dedicated learning and study spaces that have been designed for regional people by regional people. You can read more about who we are and what we do here.

Why we are here

Regional people are less than half as likely to gain a bachelor qualification compared to their metropolitan counterparts. Existing initiatives to improve higher education access have failed to increase the participation rates of regional Australians, which have remained stagnate at around 20% for over 30 years. These initiatives are often prescribed to regional communities by either government or universities, rather than being community owned, operated, and supported.

What we do

Successful regional development is led by local communities and aligned with regional strengths. The Country Universities Centre (CUC) model is designed and developed by regional people for regional people and their communities to provide equitable access to higher education. It is both a grassroots and agile model.
Each Centre is owned, governed, and driven by its local community through an independent Board of Directors. This framework provides for place-based learning solutions. The CUC can respond quickly to the unique higher education challenges and needs of local communities.”

Who we are here for

The CUC operates in communities where universities cannot or will not go, from the coast to the outback, with the common goal of developing equitable access to higher education.
CUC communities have the following characteristics:

  • Strong local community support
  • Significant distance from existing university infrastructure
  • High representation of students from equity groups such as Regional, low socioeconomic status (SES), and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
  • Low higher education participation and bachelor attainment rates in the region
  • Small to medium-sized regional towns
  • Clear regional development goals

How it all began

Like many regional and rural communities, the small town of Cooma faced challenges in providing access to quality tertiary education opportunities and injecting knowledge and qualifications into the local workforce. In 2013, the establishment of the Cooma Universities Centre was funded by Snowy Hydro Limited, Cooma Monaro Shire Council (as it was then known), and key community members to support local students in achieving their educational aspirations.

And so, our incredible journey to change the future of regional education began.

A decade on, the expanded and rebranded Country Universities Centre is a government-funded network of 13 Centres operating in 18 communities across New South Wales, Queensland, and Victoria.

Alongside state government seed grants in recognition of the Centres’ impact, the CUC has secured funding under the federal Regional University Centres (RUC) program. This program has placed the study hub model in the national spotlight, with RUCs emerging across Australia, all developed for their local community by their local community. Our Centres also benefit from membership of the larger CUC network.

Our affiliated network

The strength of the CUC is in its network approach to delivering quality higher education into regional communities. We have twelve Centres operating in fifteen communities in regional NSW, who are communicating and collaborating together as a network.

We operate in an umbrella model, where each Centre who affiliates with the Country Universities Centre is given access to the expertise and experience of the parent body. Each Centre is locally governed and driven by its community through an independent Board of Directors. The network approach of our model means that our Centres and students are collectively represented by an aggregated body that assists in overcoming the inevitable thin numbers in regional education.

We continue to look towards providing access to higher education for rural and regional Australia. If your community is interested in finding out more about the benefits a local CUC could bring to your area, please contact us.