USC Gympie Learning to take a lead

"WE believe in Gympie," an enthusiastic University of the Sunshine Coast Chancellor John Dobson said yesterday.

He was contemplating increasingly ambitious plans to make Gympie a major educational centre.

He said education was already a major Gympie region industry in its own right, as well as a service to other regional industries and to students who no longer have to travel to study.

And the admiration is mutual, as Gympie students vote with their feet by enrolling in almost overwhelming numbers to study at the USC's new Gympie campus.

The university's one-year old study centre is already approaching capacity, according to Vice Chancellor Greg Hill, "much quicker than we expected".

That leaves campus manager Graham Young having to look at ways of expanding that capacity, including introducing longer teaching hours with classes time-tabled in a shift arrangement to get more students flowing through the $5.5 million campus building, built on land made available by Gympie TAFE.

Education is big business in Gympie and growing fast, according to Mr Dobson, who this week chaired the first ever Gympie meeting of the university's governing body, the USC Council.

It was only the second time the council has met away from the main campus at Sippy Downs.

Council members met with Gympie Regional councillors and long-term university supporter, Darren Edwards of James Nash State High School, which hosted the university in its early days before it acquired its own Gympie building last August.

"We will do all we can to increase our services throughout our footprint area, especially Gympie," Mr Dobson said.

Gympie is in the vanguard of some big changes in the academic world, especially in Australia, he said.

"We particularly want to service Gympie, because it is already an important education centre.

"University graduates on average will earn $1.5 million more in their working lives than those without a degree.

"No nation has ever attained prosperity, financial or technological achievement without seriously developing its tertiary education sector."