The opportunity to study his Bachelor of Arts majoring in creative writing at home was too much for Port Macquarie’s Douglas Smith.
So he came home.
Douglas is one of a growing number of Port Macquarie residents exploring the option of studying online, through Open Universities Australia.
Their online education uptake in regional areas shows that Port Macquarie is in the top three regional areas of the state in terms of enrolments.
Given the government’s recently announced review on the gap between higher education levels in regional and city areas, it’s promising to see that Port Macquarie is one of the areas leading the way with uptake in higher education online.
Orange and Goulburn join Port Macquarie as the three leading regional areas with the highest number of online students.
The most popular courses in Port Macquarie are the Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Education and the Bachelor of Accounting.
And that choice proved the clincher for Douglas, after he wanted to leave Woolongong and return home to study.
“I’d been studying on-campus in Woolongong but my partner was here, so there was some long distance travelling involved,” he said.
“I wanted to come home and continue to study mainly because it’s cheaper but also because I liked the flexibility of studying online.
I liked the flexibility of studying onlineDouglas Smith
“My experience is that Open Universities Australia offers a really good support network and they were really helpful for me.
“I study better in a classroom environment but found the open feeds almost like a virtual classroom where all these ideas get thrown around.
“I think another key is self-discipline which is really important to studying online. I spent about 10 hours a week studying.”
Douglas said the balance between the need to work and reducing your living costs means that studying online is a pretty good option.
“And I’ll give credit to Open Universities Australia they were welcoming and had a supportive team that provided plenty of support.
“I reckon you have to step outside your comfort zone.”
Research shows about 70 percent of students that leave their regional home to attend university never go back. Many students opt for online study instead of on-campus so they can remain at home, helping to stem the brain drain which occurs when students leave their local communities to study in metropolitan areas.
With the cost of living rising and rental costs alone for a three year degree setting students back anywhere from $33,540 for shared housing to $68,640 for an apartment, it becomes clearer why this is the case.