MEMBER for Monash Russell Broadbent said local students could live at home and work locally while also studying a tertiary qualification at a new Regional University Centre to be established on the Bass Coast.

Mr Broadbent welcomed this week’s commitment by the Coalition Government to tertiary education in the region and said the centre would boost opportunities for local students to gain skills and qualifications.

“The Bass Coast University Centre will be established in Wonthaggi and will service towns in the area from Cowes to Foster to Grantville. It will attract new students looking to enter current and emerging industries to support growth and development, and increase employment opportunities in our region,” Mr Broadbent said.

“Regional University Centres provide study spaces, academic support, video conferencing and other support for students studying via distance at partner universities.

“This centre opens up more opportunities for people in our region to study than ever before, without having to leave our local community and their support networks.”

Minister for Education Dan Tehan said the Bass Coast Centre was one of nine new centres being established across regional Australia under the Coalition Government’s $53.2 million Regional University Centres program.

Similar facilities will be established in Albany WA, Roma Qld, Ulladulla NSW and Parkes NSW.

“Our Government made a commitment at the last election to establish more Regional University Centres as part of our plan to better support education in regional Australia,” Mr Tehan said.

“We are keeping our promise to regional Australia by delivering nine new centres. We believe every Australian, no matter where they live, should be able to attend university.

“Our Government is putting regional and rural students at the centre of our focus.

“Since 2016, we have invested more than $600 million to improve support for regional and remote higher education.”

The Morrison government is providing $15 million for the establishment of nine regional university centres including the one at Wonthaggi.

The centres will provide study spaces, academic support, video conferencing and other support for students studying via distance at partner universities.

Mr Tehan said the centres were good news for country students.

“We believe every Australian, no matter where they live, should be able to attend university,” Mr Tehan said in a statement on Monday.

“If you live in regional Australia you are half as likely to attend a tertiary institution as someone who lives in a capital city.”

Minister for Regional Education Andrew Gee said the new centres will provide opportunities for students in country Australia to gain a tertiary qualification without leaving their community and support networks.

“This is another opportunity for our regional areas to share in the social, economic and cultural benefits of tertiary education and help them get back on their feet,” Mr Gee said in the statement.

“This is about equality of opportunity for country people, and giving them the same access to education as their city cousins.”

The Bass Coast Shire Council has long had the establishment of a university hub in Wonthaggi as a key priority and sees this announcement by Mr Broadbent as just the beginning for Bass Coast in the university space.