A Country University Centre is coming to the Clarence Valley. Celebrating the good news at the building where the centre will operate from are: Clarence Valley mayor Jim Simmons,  Clarence Valley Country University Centre committee members Adam Smith and Meghan Wellard, Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis, committee treasurer Ashley Lindsday, owner Merv Smidt, committee member Warren Steele, owner Cindy Smidt, owner Col Smidt and committee chair Scott Monaghan.
A Country University Centre is coming to the Clarence Valley. Celebrating the good news at the building where the centre will operate from are: Clarence Valley mayor Jim Simmons, Clarence Valley Country University Centre committee members Adam Smith and Meghan Wellard, Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis, committee treasurer Ashley Lindsday, owner Merv Smidt, committee member Warren Steele, owner Cindy Smidt, owner Col Smidt and committee chair Scott Monaghan. Tim Howard

University centre future of tertiary education: MP

A NSW Government funded Country University Centre that will keep locals living and learning in the Clarence Valley will open in early 2019.

Clarence Nationals MP Chris Gulaptis said the $1.3 million CUC will support students working hard to improve their skills and knowledge by providing them with local facilities so they do not have to leave the Clarence Valley to complete their degree.

"Clarence Valley is booming with opportunities for graduates, especially in areas like health and transport, so a Country Universities Centre will keep tertiary students in the region to help meet that demand," Mr Gulaptis said.

"This is great news for our local community with students from the Clarence Valley set to benefit when the Centre opens in early 2019.

"This is a win-win for local students already toiling away on tertiary studies, for future students and for our local industries too.

"Local students can get now get their degree with the backing they need from family and friends while continuing to enjoy life in their local community."

The staffed Country University Centre facility, to be located next to the Clarence Regional Library in Pound Street, Grafton, will provide students undertaking distance university courses a place to study together as well as access to Wi-Fi, computers, video conferencing and tutorial support.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW and Skills John Barilaro said the Centre is the fourth of at least five new Country University Centres planned for regional NSW through an $8 million fund from the NSW Government.

"The NSW Government is committed to making tertiary education as accessible, rewarding and successful as possible for every student in NSW," Mr Barilaro said.

"When we give students the opportunity to study at home in regional NSW we know they will bring those skills into the local workforce and continue to grow our regional economies and communities."

Country Universities Centre chief executive officer Duncan Taylor said the support from the NSW Government is helping to break the boundaries regional students too often face in accessing and completing higher education courses.

"Geography really is a key challenge faced by students when deciding whether to go to university or not and the Country University Centre at Grafton will fill a gap in the network we're building to overcome this," Mr Taylor said.

Mr Gulaptis acknowledged the support of the Smidt brothers, Merv & Colin who own the building for their generosity in offering the premises rent free for the first year. The Smidt family has multi-generational roots in the Clarence Valley and saw great potential for the establishment of a CUC in Clarence Valley.

The Daily Examiner has interviewed the Smidt family about why they support the university centre for an article in tomorrow's paper. There will also be a video interview with the family online.