A campus experience is now more accessible to regional and rural university students thanks to a newly introduced network of regional study centres.
Supported by the NSW government, the growing Country University Centre (CUC) network offers study space and local support for students enrolled in universities throughout regional NSW, including the University of New England (UNE).
UNE Manager for Tamworth and Regions, Sue-Ellen Hogan explains that, “CUC’s increase the study opportunities for regional and rural students and expands UNE’s regional network, which includes UNE Tamworth, UNE Sydney, UNE Taree as well as an extensive regional study centre network in the New England North West.”
UNE provides training and advice to CUC staff to ensure that its online students have the resources, tools and backup they need.
“Not only have we met with many of our students at all CUCs, we run regular ‘meet and greet’ sessions to welcome them to our UNE family. My team and I also work directly with CUC Centre Managers to ensure they are able to provide personalised student support to our students,” Sue-Ellen said.
Student Janine John-Natley, in Cooma, NSW, regularly attends the Snowy Monaro CUC where she studies a Bachelor of Legal Studies (BLS).
“I am studying online as there aren’t any universities close to me which offer the course I wanted to undertake. I also love the flexibility to fit my study to my lifestyle,” Janine said.
“Enrolling in a BLS at UNE was a great way to get back into tertiary studies after being away for nearly 10 years. I got a two-for-one deal as it was the course I wanted to do and it had an online study option with support.
“The CUC is definitely more than just a place to study. It connects me with like-minded people. Even though I may not be studying the same unit or course but it doesn't mean I don't have things in common with other students. We often end up being sounding boards for each other.
“Having CUC access is just like being on campus. You are still able to interact with people. The major difference is your lectures are prerecorded but I think this makes it easier as you can rewind and take notes of things you may have missed.”
Over 104 UNE students are currently making use of CUC facilities in Cooma, Grafton, Goulburn, Moree, Narrabri, Broken Hill, Griffith and Leeton, with the number expected to grow as word of the advantages spread.
“At the CUC, I was made to feel welcome,” Janine said. “It doesn't matter if you are a young or older, studying your first degree or studying your 2nd (or 3rd), you are just made to feel that you are wanted in this space and that it is here for all tertiary students.”
In addition to promoting higher education opportunities and study options in their local communities, CUCs offer a professional environment where students can study using the latest technology and fast internet connections. They are also accredited exam locations, providing a familiar environment in which to sit exams and cutting down on travel and stress.