Students buck national trend

Published 10:00am 18 August 2022

Students buck national trend
Words by Kylie Knight
Photo: Student Alisha Griffiths started her course in 2021

The Moreton Bay Region is bucking the national trend, with university participation rates rising instead of falling, according to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics Census data.

Moreton Bay Regional Council and UniSC say it’s further proof the campus at Petrie is needed.

Data from the 2021 Census shows university participation rates in the Moreton Bay Region rose to 11.4 per cent, up from 10.7 per cent in 2016.

In contrast, the rate dipped to 14.2 per cent in Queensland in 2021 – a drop from 14.8 per cent in 2016. It was a similar trend across Australia with a fall from 16.1 per cent (2016) to 15.4 per cent (2021).

UniSC Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Helen Bartlett says more than 3000 students are enrolled at the Moreton Bay campus and the number is expected to grow to 10,000 by 2030.

“We’re very pleased with the positive response of the local community to UniSC’s Moreton Bay Campus since opening its doors in 2020. These statistics provide a tangible reflection of how UniSC is already increasing the higher education participation rate in the region,” Professor Bartlett says.

“As our local student base grows, so does UniSC’s commitment to providing that community with world-class facilities and education. Stage two of our campus expansion is already underway, with three new buildings slated for completion in 2023 and further development as part of ‘The Mill’ precinct in the pipeline.”

Students buck national trend
What stage two of the campus will look like.

Making an impact

Mayor Peter Flannery says, in two years, the Moreton Bay Region was defying all expectations with the runaway success of its own university.

“This is the story of the little campus that could, what UniSC has achieved here in Petrie against all the odds of COVID and international border closures is nothing short of mind-blowing,” he says.

“It’s also a testament to locals and their craving for tertiary qualifications, which for too long were out of reach for many people because we didn’t have our own campus and they simply couldn’t afford the commute or to relocate for uni.

|“In the first two years of its operations, the campus has already exceeded its student enrolment expectations, had to bring forward the construction of new buildings to cater for demand, and now the university is defying state and national trends in terms of participation.|

“I love it when a plan comes together, but this is already an incredible success story that’s surpassed even the wildest imaginations – so, I have to thank UniSC for backing Council’s very ambitious dreams for this precinct.”

Mayor Flannery says the unique site at Petrie presented a rare opportunity.

“No other uni in South East Queensland has this amount of land, sits at the junction of two urban railway lines, and has easy access to two major arterial roads (Gympie Rd and the Bruce Highway),” he explains.

“When Council purchased this site back in 2015, some people considered it controversial and predicted it would be a white elephant.

|“Today, it’s a beacon of what can be achieved when governments show a bit of ambition and enact a long-term strategy, rather than thinking in four-year election cycles.|

“This is exactly what we’ll need ahead of the Olympics in 2023, and I hope it’ll be USC graduates from Petrie reimaging the potential of Moreton Bay to ensure we maximise the opportunities of this once in a lifetime event.”

Campus a standout

Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering student Alisha Griffiths started her degree in 2021 and moved to the region from Chinchilla, after migrating to Australia from England as a child.

Alisha says studying at UniSC Moreton Bay campus was convenient, now that she lives in the region.

“It’s also so new, there’s a lot of technology in the building. Being in a STEM course, all the technology goes a long way,” she says.

Alisha believes studying a university degree will open up more opportunities for employment, particularly with the 2032 Brisbane Olympics on the horizon.

“With the Olympics coming, there’s going to be a lot of engineering in this region,” she says.

“The course is very challenging, but I’m loving it.

“Everyone quite enjoys it. Everyone sits on the big stairs (in the foundation building), you see a lot of familiar faces being a smaller campus.”

Students buck national trend

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