Local youth embracing higher education opportunities

Regional Students at the Tablelands University Centre

The Tablelands University Centre (TUC), an innovative initiative by Vocational Partnerships Group (VPG) and supported by the Australian Government through the Regional University Study Hubs Program, is reshaping the higher education narrative on the Atherton Tablelands.

20-year-old Sophie Mohr and 19-year-old Jasmine Hyde are just two of the many students making strides toward their educational pursuits with the support of the TUC. Motivated by their collective commitment to remain in the community they call home while pursuing their educational aspirations, the students are enrolled in a free enabling course, Skills for Tertiary Education Preparatory Studies (STEPS), offered by Central Queensland University (CQU), opening pathways to university studies for those navigating non-traditional entry requirements.

For Jasmine, an early school leaver, the course is her ticket to a fresh start. “This course is a way for me to get the skills I need to pursue my dream career in law and criminology. With the help of VPG, I was able to identify study options to get me on track towards my goal,” says Ms Hyde. Driven by a passion for education and inspired by her mother’s role at a local school, Sophie says the enabling course is a way for her to meet prerequisites for a Bachelor of Education. “Education has always been my passion, especially working with children. This course not only opens the door to my degree but also allows me to sharpen my academic skills before I start Uni,” says Ms Mohr.

Expressing their dedication to the Atherton Tablelands, both Sophie and Jasmine envision contributing to the region’s growth and prosperity post their higher education studies. Sophie emphasises, “After Uni, I’d love to stay here; it’s my home, and I much prefer living in a small town than a city.” Jasmine echoes, “Atherton is my home too, and one day, I dream of living at Tinaroo.”

The enabling course at CQU offers an educational lifeline to those who may not have initially met the minimum academic requirements for their chosen undergraduate studies. Currently, Sophie and Jasmine are attending online classes, utilising the resources and facilities at the TUC to facilitate their studies. Both students will be able to apply directly to CQU for their chosen degree courses once they have successfully completed the required STEPS units.

Maryanne Tranter, VPG Chief Executive Officer, underscores the TUC’s commitment to community support, emphasising the facility’s role in creating a supportive community of learners. “We recognise that learning is a shared journey, not just an individual pursuit, which is why it’s important we create a vibrant space at the TUC for fostering motivation, purpose, and connections among local students who share similar experiences. We also offer a range of support services to help students achieve their academic and personal goals, including extensive career guidance and support for those considering university or returning to study, helping them to research relevant courses, universities, and entry pathways,” says Ms Tranter.

Virginia Kruger, CQU STEPS Access Coordinator, adds, “CQUniversity is proud to work with the Tablelands University Centre and the vital services and facilities it provides to support regional students. The TUC helps to make online learning more manageable for students, while reducing the expenses, time, and travel associated with commuting to campuses in Cairns. The CQUniversity STEPS course is a wonderful free Enabling course that offers regional and remote students a pathway to University entry. The CQUniversity STEPS team is thrilled to work with TUC to help aspiring students and future graduates remain in their communities.”

The TUC is open to all local students who are studying university or VET courses online at any Australian institution at no cost.

For more information, visit www.tuc.edu.au