The Murray River Study Hub (MRSH) will open three new temporary locations in Renmark, Berri and Loxton, providing improved access to the growing number of Riverland university students using the hub.
The temporary sites will remain in place while construction of the new Riverland central hub is underway on the TAFE SA site at Berri. This will relieve pressure on the TAFE facility while construction takes place and also offer study spaces closer to home for students during COVID times.
The venues supporting this concept through hosting the spoke locations are:
- the Berri Library
- the Renmark Library; and
- the Loxton Business Hub.
The new facilities – which will be opening to students as of Monday 18th October – will provide access to computers, Wi-Fi and quiet study areas for the 73 students who currently study remotely in the Riverland. They will also offer a free space to meet with the MRSH Student Advisors who provide advice and support on career pathways, how to enrol, and remote study expertise.
The MRSH initiative has been made possible by funding though the Australian Government’s Regional University Centres Program and through the support of key partner agencies, including the Rural City of Murray Bridge, Regional Development Australia Murraylands and Riverland, Riverland G3 Alliance, TAFE SA and Coorong District Council.
Federal Member for Barker Tony Pasin said the Australian Government has continued to invest in the program and was pleased with the exceptional enrolment numbers in the hub.
“Our Government understands the importance of every child having access to a quality education. Young people in regional Australia are half as likely to have completed a university degree as their city counterparts,” Mr Pasin said.
“This is why in 2019 we committed to $24.2 million over four years to help establish or expand 16 Regional Study Hubs covering 22 locations throughout Australia, including the Riverland. This is part of our additional $134.8 million commitment to regional and rural higher education, bringing the total additional new funding to $400 million over five years.”
“By providing more higher education and training opportunities locally we can retain skills and experience that will boost our local economy and keep our community vibrant,” Said Mr Pasin
MRSH Program Manager Vanessa Leigh said hub enrolments were growing each semester, with the popularity of online/remote study spiking significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Across both regions (the Murraylands and Riverland) there are a total of 158 active registered users, and a further 100-plus expressions of interest from local people keen to study soon,” Ms Leigh says.
“These numbers demonstrate the need for this extra support in our region and ensure we can continue to retain qualified young people in the Riverland and Murraylands – a key goal of the Murray River Study Hub.”
Construction activity on the new Riverland hub facility is set to start in late 2021 with TAFE SA receiving grant funding earlier this year to create the Berri Learning and Innovation Hub. This will create a space similar what already exists in Murray Bridge – where the MRSH and TAFE SA are co-located and support a strong learning environment for the whole region.
“MRSH spokes in multiple locations across the Riverland brings the program closer to students with the aim of increasing accessibility for students to study closer to home,” Ms Leigh says.
“Using existing community services, this initiative will strengthen regional partnerships, providing a spoke in three Riverland townships, to increase community services for residents.”
While the Murray River Study Hub’s core focus is to enrol students in university, it also supports Vocational Education Training (VET) skill sets and career pathway programs for year 11 and 12 students – making it a critical asset for our region.
A local launch event and digital awareness campaign will start later this month to promote the opening of the spokes and invite students to explore and access them.
Anyone looking study at the Hub, or seeking information, should visit the website murrayriverstudyhub.org.au to fill out an EOI.