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Student hubs on the cards in the Great South Coast


Studying a university or other tertiary course remotely online in South West Victoria might soon become a lot less isolated and more manageable, thanks to a local student proposal.

At the 2018 Great South Coast Regional Assembly in Hamilton, local year 12 students told the Great South Coast Regional Partnership about the difficulties of studying a tertiary course online from home.

The students proposed a virtual hub with a physical presence for university cloud learning be established in each major town in the region.

Some of the students at the Assembly came from Baimbridge College in Hamilton. Principal Warwick Price explains, “It’s great that they want to continue to study after school. They identified they wanted a place they could congregate, where they could sit down and discuss their learning, how they were progressing, in a supported environment. They wanted to be able to further their education without leaving Hamilton.”

Following the Assembly, South West TAFE approached the Partnership with a proposal to investigate the idea further. This could include using part of the TAFE’s facilities in Warrnambool, Hamilton and Portland as community education hubs – digitally enabled spaces where tertiary students from across the area, not necessarily studying at the TAFE, could study together in a supported environment.

“It’s a brilliant idea,” explains David Pope, Acting Chair of the Great South Coast Regional Partnership. “The students led this concept proposal at the Regional Assembly. We are really excited to take it forward to explore how we enhance the education offering for our region.

“It can often be isolating studying online at home. But if there was a central physical hub where online tertiary students could gather, work together and socialise, it would make studying remotely more manageable with networking opportunities. It has the potential to keep more young people and skills in the region along with an improved offering for the existing population and as an instrument for attracting population.”

A feasibility study – funded by the Partnership and Regional Development Victoria – is now kicking off and will explore, among other things, the demand for, and governance of, such hubs.

“It’s an exciting prospect,” explains Mark Fidge, CEO of SW TAFE. “We have had a vision for this sort of thing for a while.” He explained the study will be talking to local young people to find out exactly what they want and need.

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