Financially-troubled Charles Sturt University's (CSU) decision to ditch two degrees at its Dubbo campus has been challenged by acting chairman of Regional Development Australia (RDA) Orana Brad Cam.
Mr Cam, who is general manager of the Mid-Western Regional Council, is also suggesting the university establish courses on rural specialities.
In mid-June, CSU announced more than 600 subjects would be axed as a result of a projected $49.5 million budget deficit.
It reported that all of its campuses would be impacted with Dubbo losing the Bachelor of Education (Early Childhood and Primary) and Bachelor of Educational Studies. The Bachelor of Education (Birth to 5 Years) will be offered online.
Mr Cam said CSU's decision to move the two degrees away from Dubbo "would not assist learning in this area".
"We believe CSU has a key role to play in helping to meet skills shortages in the region, through local training opportunities," he said.
"Coursework will be available from other campuses and online but this is not always ideal for students in remote areas.
"For rural students, online is not always the best option due to connectivity issues."
The acting chairman also argues the university's Sustainable Futures program provides it with "an optimum opportunity" to establish courses on rural specialities.
"There is a key opportunity for training and development around key growth industries such as agriculture, mining, manufacturing, health, tourism, education and transport," he said.
Mr Cam welcomed CSU's plan to strengthen the School of Indigenous Australian Studies at Dubbo which would "enhance knowledge of the region's rich cultural history", along with the retention of degrees in nursing and social work.
"Health is the fastest growing sector in the region with ongoing high demand for medical staff in a range of areas including nursing, social work and therapy," he said.