Interesting short article in the Sydney Morning Herald by Professor Gerard Sutton, VC at Wollongong University, on the role that Regional Australia's universities play in driving regional development. Unfortunately I cannot give the link.
Unlike New Zealand where university development was relatively widely spread, the establishment of universities in Regional Australia really lagged. It would be 1928 before the Armidale Teachers College was established as the first higher educational institution outside the metro centres, 1938 before the New England University College was founded. There was then a very long gap until the creation of Newcastle University first as a University College and then as a full university in 1965.
Professor Sutton makes the point that Regional Australia's universities are working hard to create university cities outside the metros - at places like Wollongong, Newcastle, Armidale, Bathurts, Lismore, Wagga Wagga, Townsville, Toowoomba, Ballarat and Geelong, just to mention a few.
These universities have very different roles in their communities as compared to the metros. As an example, they often have to drive the creation of infrastructure, rather than taking what is there as given. In doing so, they greatly enrich their local communities.
They are also major employers, injecting billions of dollars into regional economies directly and through their attraction of students who have to be fed and housed.
Now here Professor Sutton makes the point that regional universities have a responsibility to provide much more by acting as catalysts for development in ways in which metro universities need not and, often, could not match.
He is, of course, correct. Regional Australia's universities have acted as pioneers not just in the development of new teaching and learning approaches, but also through their contributions to regional development.