A+ IDEA: Universities looking to deliver in Warwick
UNIVERSITY campuses could soon be offered on the Southern Downs, as Mayor Vic Pennisi tries to combat the post-secondary school migration of young adults to urban centres.
Preliminary discussions between the Southern Downs Regional Council and the University of Southern Queensland began on Friday, when Cr Pennisi met with vice-chancellor Geraldine Mackenzie.
“She said every course they deliver in Toowoomba can be delivered at the Wine College in Stanthorpe,” Cr Pennisi said.
“In Warwick, classes could happen over at the TAFE college.
“Those conversations have started.”
From the ages of 20 to 39, Warwick sees a dramatic decrease in population numbers compared to the Queensland average, and nationwide studies have suggested the switch is strongly linked to education and economic opportunities.
For SDRC Youth Council members Juliana Cruda and Maddy Goodwin, the figures are hardly surprising.
The Year 10 Assumption College students want to explore the opportunities outside the small town they grew up in.
They plan to venture to cities like Brisbane to study psychology or teaching, before eventually returning to Warwick at a later age.
“It feels like home, I have my family here,” Juliana said.
“But there’s not really much to do (as a teenager or young adult).
“Most weekends I stay home and watch Netflix.”
Juliana’s comments echo those of Cr Pennisi, who wants to create more opportunities for young people to flourish in regional Queensland.
“Don’t underestimate what a teenager can contribute to our community,” Cr Pennisi said.
“We have to try to be conscious of the changes they’re going through and try to maximise the potential that they have.”
Beyond education, the Mayor believes fostering a stronger relationship between young adults and community leaders could lead to greater retention.
“UQ found the main reason (young people) leave us is because they don’t feel like they matter where they were born,” Cr Pennisi said.
“We as the leaders of the community take them for granted, so they gravitate elsewhere.
“I want to fix that somehow.”
Warwick Showgirl Jessica Carey could form part of the solution.
Ms Carey attended the council special meeting on Monday, July 13 to advocate for a series of changes, including youth development.
Her proposal included “a vision for the community” that would help young people to develop basic employment and leadership skills, but councillors perceive her potential to be far greater.
“Listening to Jessica speak made me feel excited, because I felt that there might be ways we could tap into that and come up with something to make the youth feel more valuable,” Cr Pennisi said.