22 November 2012

EIF funding supports higher education in Whyalla and Mt GambierThe University of South Australia has secured $18 million in funding from the Federal Government to expand its physical footprint in Mt Gambier and its information technology infrastructure and capacity to deliver better higher education opportunities to regional South Australia.

The funding, secured under the Regional Priorities round of the Education Investment Fund, will be part of the $22 million UniSA Regional Connections project, set to revolutionise the student learning experience and access for regional and rural students in the State.

UniSA Acting Vice Chancellor Professor Joanne Wright says she is delighted with the announcement because the  Regional Connections project will bring opportunities to expand the range of degrees taught in SA’s two largest regional centres, Mt Gambier and Whyalla, and will ensure students have access to the same learning resources as their metropolitan counterparts.

“About $7.5 million will be spent on upgrading our information and communications technology (ICT) capacity, making it 100 times faster than what is available now and delivering one of the fastest network systems in Australia today,” Prof Wright says.

“It will be achieved by developing the infrastructure to connect UniSA in Mt Gambier and Whyalla to the existing Australian Research and Education Network (AREN).

“This means we will be able to offer a wider range of degrees in the regions, to complement our existing offerings in health and engineering.

“It also means students in the country will be able to access the same curriculum and world class resources and academics as those in the city.”

Prof Wright says the network will allow quality engagement in real time with classes in the city and the capacity for students, academics and researchers to connect nationally and globally with leading simulation laboratories and other digital resources.

“Regional Connections will include the development of a $12 million dollar facility at Mt Gambier on the TAFESA site, tripling the size of UniSA’s facilities,” Prof Wright says.

“The project has also received strong and generous support from TAFESA, which has provided land at its Mt Gambier site and from the City of Mt Gambier and the District Council of Grant.

“UniSA has already invested $23 million in online learning, simulation facilities and curriculum enhancements and committed a further $24 million in strategies designed to improve student engagement and retention across the University and our goal is to be in the top 10 nationally for student progression, satisfaction and learning outcomes by 2020.

“To achieve that goal we have to be sure we are doing our best for all of our students across the state.

“We also believe that the new facilities and reach provided through upgraded ICT, our close and successful relationship with TAFESA in Whyalla and Mt Gambier, and a range of already successful programs to encourage participation from Indigenous, migrant and low socio economic status students, will lift participation in higher education and ensure existing students have the highest quality educational experience we can provide.”

UniSA recently announced that the Bachelor of Education would be available to students in Mt Gambier and Whyalla and the Regional Connections project will offer opportunities for the development of programs for regional students that will support the development of in-demand regional skills in the health, education and engineering professions.


Media contact: Michèle Nardelli office: 08 8302 0966 mobile: 0418 823 673 email: michele.nardelli@unisa.edu.au



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