Through the week I announced a steering committee would be established to advise and assist me to develop a new project that will deliver a larger university presence in Taree to serve the Manning-Great Lakes Region.
In the coming months, I will work with key stakeholders to secure funding to deliver greater university education opportunities in the region through the development of the Taree Universities Campus project.
We need to lift higher education opportunities in this region for both school leaver and mature aged students, and that means we need to develop a strong university presence here.
Our government has boosted access to university participation and is delivering more face-to-face teaching and support in regional and rural areas. I am keen to ensure our region shares in that investment.
Recently I saw the higher education delivery model used at Geraldton in Western Australia. I was particularly impressed by what has been achieved for local students seeking to study university locally, and the broader benefits it is delivering to their region's economy.
That model was developed by establishing a local organisation that built its own local campus. It is essentially a collaboration of multiple universities delivering a range of degree programs.
I believe we can potentially develop a similar model which will build the professional capacity and knowledge of our region's workforce, as well as help turn the tide of those who leave the area to study.
Recently I announced a number of multi-million dollar projects to help boost our region's economy. These initiatives include the $455 million Fig Trees on the Manning precinct, funding to develop a new MRI Service and Radiotherapy Cancer Service, the Forster Civic Precinct, major expansions in the aged care sector, headspace and, at the state level, work is well underway on the $140 million expansion of Manning Base Hospital and planning for the new Forster-Tuncurry Hospital.
A strong university presence will enhance the benefits of these developments and help grow our economy.