CQU VC welcomes budget commitments to education, training and research in the regions

26 October 2022

CQUniversity's Vice-Chancellor and President' Professor Nick Klomp has today welcomed confirmation that two flagship university projects in Cairns and Gladstone would receive funding as part of the Federal budget handed down last night.

Professor Klomp also welcomed confirmation that the university sector would benefit from 20'000 extra university places including more than $7 million in new Commonwealth funding for 364 student places at CQUniversity over the next two years.

As Queensland's only dual sector university' CQUniversity is also set to benefit from a share of $921.7m to strengthen the VET sector over the next five years.

This will include sharing in 480'000 fee-free TAFE places' as well as funding for TAFE technology upgrades and apprenticeship incentives.

CQUniversity Vice-Chancellor Professor Nick Klomp said the additional places were critical for CQUniversity to support regional industry in plugging the current gap in skilled and qualified workers.

"Regional Queensland is in the grip of a massive skilled worker shortfall' which is hurting industry productivity and economic growth' not to mention the regional lifestyle that we love so much'" Professor Klomp said.

"These additional Commonwealth-supported places and funding for VET will allow hundreds of additional regional students to enrol in CQUniversity courses over the next couple of years' which is critical for a few reasons.

"Firstly' CQUniversity's mission is to create as much educational opportunity as possible for regional Queenslanders. Allowing more regional students to study at university under a Commonwealth-supported place is one way of closing the opportunity gap.

"Secondly' we know that students who study in regional areas are far more inclined to work in regional areas once they graduate. That makes for much more sustainable regional communities and helps to grow the attraction of living in regional Queensland'" said Professor Klomp.

"I thank the government for its commitment to providing new Commonwealth-supported places at CQUniversity and for investing in VET' widening the doors for more regional Queenslanders to obtain a life-changing qualification."

The 364 additional Commonwealth-supported places will be spread across engineering' medical science' education' allied health' social work and accounting courses.

Around 165 higher education places will be funded in 2023' with an additional 199 places to be funded the following year.

Professor Klomp also said he was pleased to see confirmation that the University will also receive $50 million for the construction of a new Cairns campus and $15.3 million for marine research activities at Coastal Marine Ecosystems Research Centre (CMERC) in Gladstone.

"This funding now means that Cairns will be home to a new state-of-the-art CQUniversity campus' that will allow the University to grow student numbers and increase its course offerings in the region'" he said.

The new campus will build on more than a decade of university growth in the region and will see local student capacity grow from 2000 to up to 4000 by 2032.

The project is also estimated to create 780 direct and indirect jobs for the region and inject $500 million into the Cairns economy across 10 years.

Professor Klomp said that the University would now also be able to expand its marine research expertise and outputs with the promised funding for important research being undertaken in the Southern Great Barrier Reef.

"The Southern Great Barrier Reef is home to a multi-billion-dollar blue economy' where marine ecosystems co-exist with shipping' fisheries' tourism' agriculture and other key industries'" Professor Klomp said.

"CQUniversity has a critical role to play in ensuring the future sustainability of the Reef. Our marine experts are conducting vitally important research into the health of the Southern Great Barrier Reef' in collaboration with the many industries that contribute to the economic vibrancy of the region.

"I am grateful to the Government for fulfilling their election commitment to this work as it will help CQUniversity and our world class marine researchers to realise the full extent of their research vision for CMERC and the Southern Great Barrier Reef."

Independent research conducted by Deloitte Access Economics found that CMERC' once fully funded' would contribute $150 million to the regional economy over 20 years.

CQUniversity has already committed $6.6m of its own funds over five years' to establish CMERC' including leasing a strategically significant site in the Gladstone Marina precinct in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area' and recruiting leading researchers.

As well as the commitments in Cairns and Gladstone the Budget also deliver funding to drive an electric vehicle and sustainable energy revolution to Mackay' via a new state-of-the-art TAFE training centre.

The $9 million Mackay Electric Vehicle and Energy Training (MEVET) Centre at the CQU Mackay Ooralea campus will deliver the local region with the infrastructure that is required to train people in the development and maintenance of electrical vehicles and other alternative energy technologies.