Studies in Learning, Evaluation, Innovation and Development > Vol. 7, No. 2 (2010)

Collaborative development of a university presence in regional South Australia

Julie M Watkinson, University of South Australia
Bronwyn J Ellis, Spencer Gulf Rural Health School
Janet Sawyer, University of South Australia

Abstract

In 2005 the University of South Australia’s (UniSA’s) Centre for Regional Engagement (CRE) introduced on-campus education to Mount Gambier, South Australia’s largest regional city. The work of a stakeholder steering committee enabled the establishment of the University’s Mount Gambier Regional Centre (MGRC), which depended on cooperation with TAFE SA for shared facilities, and with other regional organisations. The MGRC provides an example of innovation through partnerships, as encouraged by the Bradley Review, and use of a blend of face-to-face and video-conferenced course delivery. Findings of a longitudinal study, and growing numbers of students enrolling, confirm that the MGRC has effectively established its teaching and community engagement functions. Demonstrated benefits of its establishment include capacity-building, contributing to the region’s social capital, retaining people who may otherwise have moved away to study, and providing new career opportunities. In accordance with study findings and university strategy, the MGRC is now focusing on expanding local research projects and partnerships, on which to base long-term integration into this region. This will be discussed in the light of Bradley Review recommendations and some resultant policy changes.

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