For many people, a tertiary education is an opportunity to move away from home, gain independence and start building the skills to pursue a career they’re passionate about.
But for some students, regional campuses are the best, and sometimes only way, to access university.
Allyse Ayling is a student at the University of Wollongong (UOW) in Bega. She moved away from her home town of Merimbula before she finished high school to take up a jewellery apprenticeship in Narooma. But after her position was made redundant she was left with some big decisions.
“After moving back home my mum encouraged me to find something I was passionate about and work towards getting a qualification,” she said.
To start her journey towards being a nurse, Ms Ayling enrolled in Cert III in Disabilities at South Coast Careers College followed by a Nursing Pathway to Uni program that included a university preparation bridging program at UOW’s Bega campus.
“I love caring for people. Growing up I had an older brother who was very unwell, so I was always in a hospital setting. I think the nurses were major role models for me,” she said.
“In a way, this is a chance for me to give back to what they did for our family.”
The opportunity to become familiar with the UOW campus in Bega helped smooth the transition to the Bachelor of Nursing at the start of 2017. Ms Ayling said she has found the size of the campus to be a positive.
“Because it’s smaller, there’s really good support and a lot more one-on-one time with the lecturers,” she said.
“It’s also really good to have so many support networks on the one campus. You get to meet so many other people from all the other years and they’re really helpful as well.”
Ms Ayling is already putting her new skills to good use as a part-time disability worker.
“It’s incredible to learn more about different medical conditions and use this knowledge to care for the patient better,” she said.
“It’s quite amazing to be able to put what I learn into practice.”
READ MORE: Employers rate UOW grads the best in state
Associate Professor Sarah O’Shea, from UOW’s School of Education, says regional campuses create opportunities to share knowledge, develop skilled workers for regional areas and generate employment.
“Regional campuses and regional unis have a huge role to play, not only are they often sources of employment, they can also create opportunities for people to encounter and engage with new knowledge. They are a really important aspect of regional communities,” she said.
“Regional campuses are often a lot smaller, so there is an opportunity for students to get to know staff on a really personal level.”