EARLY DAYS: University of the Sunshine Coast Vice Chancellor Greg Hill took a look at construction when the university was first establishing its Gympie campus. Prof Hill is pictured with nursing student Kirra Mieran.
EARLY DAYS: University of the Sunshine Coast Vice Chancellor Greg Hill took a look at construction when the university was first establishing its Gympie campus. Prof Hill is pictured with nursing student Kirra Mieran. Lee Gailer

Council turbocharger for Gympie uni plans

THE University of the Sunshine Coast has thanked Gympie Regional Council for its help in accelerating the expansion of its Gympie campus.

That help will include a $100,000 grant, approved at this week's council meeting.

The money is for a start on upgrading a disused state government-owned building which the university intends to lease.

The building is part of Gympie's TAFE campus and has not been used since a TAFE reorganisation wound down much of Gympie's tertiary education infrastructure.

Gympie MP Tony Perrett, a strong advocate of the project, said he was concerned that the bill seemed to be now left at the ratepayers' door.

A university spokesman said the facilities were required to support existing and future students at the Gympie campus.

He said there had been no direct request for council funding but it would help get the campus expansion up and running sooner.

He attributed the grant to council awareness of funding delays which would otherwise hold up the project.

"Councillors would have been aware that, in the event of the state government leasing the TAFE building to the USC, the university would not be in a position to refurbish the building until after the current federal funding freeze for Australian universities."

That funding freeze is due to end in December next year.

"At council's request, USC recently provided it with detailed information about the university's plans for the building, including stages of work and the costs involved.

"It is not unusual for local governments to sponsor efforts to boost local education and training," he said.

Local authorities in Moreton Bay, Sunshine Coast and Fraser Coast had all contributed to USC efforts to expand local access to education.

"Moreton Bay council even purchased property at Petrie for the USC campus."

He said the council money would allow USC students to use the facility sooner rather than later, once a state government lease had been secured.

"Our main requirement for the building is to provide further study areas with reliable internet."