The University of Tasmania is progressing a push to advance access to education and training on the State’s West Coast.
Aligning with a commitment to revitalise regions, the University has been working closely with the community on a new project that seeks to address challenges and barriers to further learning.
Vice-Chancellor Professor Rufus Black said the most recent census figures show that only 4.5 per cent of West Coast residents had a tertiary or higher education.
“In line with our social mission, this university has a key role to play in helping increase the volume and diversity of residents engaged in learning by working with the community, government, council, industry and business representatives,” Professor Black said.
“We are exploring options that support young people leaving school, displaced workers who could be reskilled, and members of the community who have never considered pathways towards furthering their education or training.
“This will take a number of forms, and we hope that our programs can be embedded into existing community sites and infrastructure across the West Coast region.”
Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor David Adams (Community, Partnerships and Regional Development) said the University would be focusing on three key groups.
“This has been a community-led initiative with stakeholders approaching the University to explore ways in which access to education and training on the West Coast can be expanded and improved,” Professor Adams said.
“The region faces a number of distinctive challenges; population decline and transition, its proximity from urban centres, and perceptions that education and training options are not aligned with local employment opportunities.”
Projects currently under development include community learning programs, short courses and the roll-out of industry-relevant associate degrees, the creation of a regional study hub, the introduction of the Children’s University, tourism workshops and potentially, the roll-out of a project aimed at increasing digital inclusion.
“The University has recruited a Community Learning Officer who will help implement these objectives, working closely with the West Coast Council’s newly-established Education and Training Advisory Committee and the broader community,” Professor Adams said.