THE University of the Sunshine Coast $4 million Gympie hub will be open for business at the start of first term, 2013, after senior planning officers met with TAFE officials at Cartwright Rd this week.
The Gympie campus of the Wide Bay Institute of TAFE will get a $4 million boost with the USC building, and some Gympie high school graduates will have the option to gain their tertiary qualifications without leaving the region.
The new facilities at Gympie will be used to deliver both TAFE and university programs, particularly in the health and community services areas.
Gympie mayor Ron Dyne hailed the initiative a boon for the region yesterday, saying anything that helped keep young people here and allowed them to gain a full education and qualifications without having to relocate was a good thing.
"I think it's a great initiative of the Sunshine Coast University and certainly adds to the opportunities for people to get qualifications in what we consider to be a highly valued work category," he said.
"Any opportunity to give people the chance to get an education in Gympie has to be supported. It saves people having to go away."
USC Vice-Chancellor Professor Greg Hill said the university was just waiting for architects to hand over the final plans for the building, which he expected to happen in the next two weeks, and tenders would then be called for its construction.
The building process is then expected to take about six months to complete, Prof Hill said.
He said once the Gympie hub was up and running, the collaboration with WBIT would have an initial focus on nursing and other health disciplines, along with special bridging programs like USC's popular Tertiary Preparation Pathway program.
"As part of the collaboration we will have nursing students from the TAFE sector working alongside registered nurses in a simulation learning laboratory that has state-of-the-art technology," he said.
"Our nursing academics will be able to enact and re-enact scenarios, record lectures and share them with people who are remote from the university. So students in Gympie will be able to view this rich learning material from Sippy Downs."