THE official opening of the next stage in Charles Sturt University's $66 million expansion will place Port Macquarie-Hastings at the centre of world-first learning and research.
In opening stage 2B of the campus development on Friday (June 11), NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said through the challenges of drought, fire, flood and a health pandemic, delivering a "landmark" learning facility to educate the leaders of tomorrow and stimulate the economy is a significant achievement.
The $21 million campus addition includes a suite of world-class environmentally sustainable platform learning and teaching spaces; the Port Macquarie International Education Centre; a NSW Emergency Services training room; an Innovation Hub and co-working spaces, student support and amenity services facilities.
"The NSW government is proud to invest in state-of-the-art facilities that connects the university's teaching, learning and research capabilities with local businesses and supports the creation and development of new business in Port Macquarie," Ms Berejiklian said.
The Premier said regional universities play an important role in providing direct education to students of all walks of life, but also connects the local community.
"It is a real boost for jobs and regional economies. What we have here is a wonderful building, built in a natural environment providing world-class education to students who will go on to make changes and become leaders in their communities," Ms Berejiklian said.
"The real critical thing for us as a government, in addition to creating the jobs and the regional economies, is the notion that every individual irrespective of their background, should have the opportunity to be their best."
The Premier said it is vital to meet the demands of a growing community like Port Macquarie by providing the essential infrastructure and praised local member Leslie Williams for working collaboratively with all the key stakeholders to make the CSU vision a reality.
"Our health sector is growing and Port Macquarie is becoming a regional community leader in terms of our health and allied health services," she said.
"What really inspired me is when Port Macquarie has gone through difficult times, whether it's floods or fire, this has been a hub for the community to come, get respite, provide support and accommodation to emergency workers. That sense of community is really important for a regional university."
Charles Sturt University interim Vice-Chancellor, Professor John Germov, said the completed development provided educational, research and collaborative opportunities for the students and broader community.
Prof Germov said the doors are open to students from across the country wanting a connected on-campus experience. He said all 350 beds at the on-campus student accommodation facility are full, with the university now offering a complete suite of degrees across a spectrum of industries including nursing, teaching and paramedicine to name a few.
"Not only will the resulting increase in student numbers further enhance the campus's already stellar reputation domestically and internationally for quality education, it will provide an ongoing boost to the region's economy," he said.
Students Caitlin Donald of Port Macquarie and Elisha Wilson of Kempsey lauded the campus for its flexible learning opportunities and range of study streams.
"There are so many opportunities to connect with people from all walks of life," nursing student Elisha said.
"I have found my passion and I am continually growing and finding new areas of interest. The lecturers are inspired to teach which helps us be inspired to learn."
CSU also offers one of the biggest online learning programs in the country.
Member for Port Macquarie Leslie Williams said the emergency services training room is a significant addition to this stage of the CSU expansion.
"This new development marks a major milestone for the Port Macquarie campus, which will provide future-focused learning and research opportunities for students right across the state," Mrs Williams said.
"This specialised training facility will also support criminal justice, public safety and security, and paramedicine courses offered at the campus and allow students to have access to frontline industry."
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