The push is on to create a university centre in the Valley
The push is on to create a university centre in the Valley moodboard

Deadline set for Clarence university hub

GRAFTON has set itself a target of 2019 to establish a centre to allow local students access to a full university education without leaving the area.

On Thursday night, the CEO of Country Universities Centre, Duncan Taylor, made his pitch to the Clarence Valley community to establish a centre in the town.

Mr Taylor, who was behind the push that set up the first CUC in Cooma in 2013, addressed a group of educators, business people and community members in the Clarence Valley Council's Grafton chambers.

He said the State Government had pumped $8million directly into the CUC to seed further developments around the State and the Federal Government had put up $15million which organisations like the CUC can access.

Mr Taylor said the CUC model was to establish a network of centres across NSW that would have enough students to be attractive to universities.

Next year, centres at Goulburn and Broken Hill would join the original Cooma centre.

"Universities are not interested in coming to regional centres unless there's more than 40,000 population to draw from," Mr Taylor said.

"Goulburn and Broken Hill brings us to a total of 50,000 people to draw from.

"We are looking at other centres like Narrabri, Griffith and potentially Grafton, which would bring our cohort above 100,000. These numbers are meaningful to universities."

He said figures from the Department of Education showed 686 students from the Grafton post code were in university education as of 2016. There were also 88 post graduate students.

The local convenor of the meeting, Michael Rowe, was impressed with the response to the meeting.

"We've got a strong list of names from people who want to move this forward," he said.

"We need to have a meeting before March next year and get moving on our submission to the CUC with a view to establishing a centre here for the 2019 university year."