Increasing Kimberley uni options
A multi-agency taskforce of politicians, community leaders and educators has united to discuss a plan to increase the university course options offered in Broome.
The steering committee is aiming to introduce the Kimberley Universities Centre, a program that would roll out tertiary courses to meet the needs of students in the region.
Using classrooms at the University of Notre Dame Broome campus, the KUC would be modelled on the existing Geraldton and Pilbara centres, which partner with multiple WA universities to provide higher education courses to students in regional locations.
The centre would be community-owned and allow youngsters to live and remain in Broome while gaining qualifications they must currently relocate to obtain.
Get in front of tomorrow's news for FREE
Journalism for the curious Australian across politics, business, culture and opinion.READ NOW
Broome Future Alliance, UNDA, Member for Durack Melissa Price, Broome Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Department of Education and the Shire of Broome are among the drivers of the project.
Ms Price said her vision was that every child leaving high school in Broome could stay in the Kimberley, receive further education in the region, and work locally.
“With the growth of oil and gas in the Kimberley region, this is going to be critically important, but also we will be able to grow our own teachers, our own nurses and so on,” she said.
“The whole point of a university centre is that you are able to attract local people to be able to educate them at home and you hope you then keep them at home and create your own workforce. This is a big game-changer for the Kimberley — my expectation is that we will be able to offer courses through to Derby, Fitzroy and Kununurra.”
BFA chairman Denis Ryan said while the project was very early in its development, the group was optimistic about its potential.
“If young people build their skills in the Kimberley, they are more likely to stay and live in the Kimberley,” he said. “There is a skill shortage right across Northern Australia and there is no short-term fix for this, but it is important we put in a solid base to build on in this time.”
UNDA chief operating officer Clare Stanford said the university was considering several opportunities aimed at providing Kimberley people with more access to tertiary education, including the KUC.
“Notre Dame is exploring how this may offer a broader range of study and educational options to the Kimberley regional community,” she said.
As head of the largest public school in the region, Broome Senior High School principal Mathew Burt said improved local post-school opportunities would strengthen the town.
“Many students want to continue studies beyond Year 12, but they do not want to leave Broome or their family,” he said.
“Making more post-school options available will be better for families and decrease the anxiety students face moving from home.”
Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.
Sign up for our emails