THE significance of Dubbo’s Charles Sturt University (CSU) campus to the city can be summed up by a few simple numbers which we have outlined in reports published over the past week.
According to a report based on the latest figures – those of 2016 – CSU staff and students contributed $8.4m to the Dubbo economy and created the equivalent of 107 full-time jobs to the area with the main industry sectors impacted on including healthcare and social assistance, retail trade and accommodation and food services.
With emphasis placed on schools, real estate and health as some of the cores of the city’s economy, it’s fair to say these numbers reveal the university campus as an unheralded hero of Orange’s landlords and businesses.
But there’s other numbers which outline the non-financial benefits the educational institution has brought to not just Dubbo but regional centres across the country.
Nine campuses, half of its students from regional and rural areas, more than half the first in their family to attend university.
It is this access to higher education that CSU offers to Australian students living outside metropolitan areas that it should be most proud of, and which Dubbo’s residents should take most comfort in.
Without it, the substantial costs of accommodation on top of tuition fees would put tertiary education beyond the reach of many current and past students.
The university’s ethos has long been to cater for the needs of the communities where its campuses are based by offering places to local students in courses where there is a regional demand for graduates.
Like regionally-based universities around the world it knows the best way to attract tertiary graduates to regional communities is to educate regional students.
A sense of community and belonging is a far great incentive to return to work in the regional community where you grew up than any inducement a government can offer.
The result has been that over its 29 years as a university CSU has trained agricultural scientists and farm managers, teachers, physiotherapists, pharmacists, vets and most recently dentists, who are all much more likely to practise their profession in regional Australia.
Though far from an Ivy League institution, CSU has earned an enviable reputation for producing graduates in demand for their vocational skills and their commitment to the communities they call home.