A $5 million Library Hub and Balonne Universities Centre will be established in St George to ensure greater access to bush students wanting to further their tertiary education.
A $5 million Library Hub and Balonne Universities Centre will be established in St George to ensure greater access to bush students wanting to further their tertiary education.

St George to be revitalised with new university

IN WHAT has been dubbed an 'important turning point' for the region, the the future of tertiary education in southwest Queensland is set to change dramatically, with the announcement of a $5 million Library Hub in St George and the opening of the Balonne Universities Centre.

The St George town centre will be completely transformed to house a state-of-the-art learning complex which will incorporate a regional university hub. The St George Library will be fully redeveloped into a vibrant precinct to connect and engage the community in the new age of digital learning.

A secondary university hub will open in Dirranbandi, to ensure services are reaching further in the community.

The creation of the Hub will allow people who want to study higher education qualifications direct access to services and support through the BUC when it opens.

Maranoa MP David Littleproud said access to education in the Balonne region would be more accessible and efficient with the investment, which comes through the Building Better Regions Fund.

"Developing the Library Hub and opening the BUC raises the bar for the Balonne community in what people can hope to achieve locally, without having to move away," Mr Littleproud said.

"The Library Hub and BUC will give our young and mature age students - and those looking to build on their skills - a chance to study locally, close to the support of their family and community.

"This is going to change the lives of many people in the bush."

Mr Littleproud said within the region, 28 per cent of students are studying for a higher-level qualification with limited internet access, but the Library Hub and BUC would provide an efficient space for all.

"With study spaces, IT and internet access, administrative and academic support services and pastoral support, the Library Hub and BUC will provide a place for students to engage in learning with more efficiency and achieve a tertiary qualification," Mr Littleproud said.

"Increasing the number of skilled professionals in the Balonne region is going to open doors and pave the way for more business opportunities in the future."

Balonne Shire Mayor, Samantha O'Toole, welcomed the announcement of federal funding, which would see two intertwined projects rolled out simultaneously to bridge the education divide.

"We have turned our dreams to create equality of opportunity for our community into reality," Cr O'Toole said.

"This is the culmination of years of hard work and planning to make the Balonne Shire future ready."

Cr O'Toole thanked Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack, for the $5 million in funding to redevelop the library into the new hub.

"For too long, we've seen our students struggle with relocating to the capital cities to pursue tertiary education," she said.

"Now, our young community can access the education they aspire to from home."

 

 The new St George Library-Hub Building in Victoria Street, with revitalised Greenspace, and refurbished Cultural Centre Façade and Annexe will include;

 

  • Increased library collection from 7 914 items to 13 500 items
  • CUC Balonne tertiary education mini-hub
  • Maker's Space for innovation, creativity and robotics
  • 3D Print hub for prototypes and new product development
  • Contemporary conference and workshop spaces with high-speed internet
  • Dedicated business space, hot desks and office hire including virtual services
  • Teen and Junior feature areas
  • Dedicated area for the celebration of local history and culture, and a new art gallery

 

"This project builds for the future by facilitating career and business development and providing a rich community learning space," Cr O'Toole said.

"It will re-energise our region. On conservative figures, $6.3 million will be spent during the construction phase, generating a further $2.3 million for our economy.

"The Balonne Shire has ben through extended years of drought, and this investment in building capacity through further education is an important turning point in the fortunes of the region."

Regional Education Minister Andrew Gee said the new Centres will provide opportunities for students in regional and remote Australia to gain a tertiary qualification without leaving their local community and support networks.

"This is about equality of opportunity for country people and giving them the same access to education as their city cousins," he said.

In Maranoa, two Regional University Centres will be opened, with the other being the Country University Centre in Roma, under the Federal Government's $53.2 million Regional University Centres program.

More information about Regional University Centres can be found at: https://www.dese.gov.au/regional-university-centres


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