Students, graduates and supporters of the University of Wollongong Bega campus are rallying around the beleaguered institution, expressing how vital it is for the regional centre.
As reported in April, UOW is facing a budget shortfall of about $90million linked to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions and its ongoing impact on student recruitment.
Despite having already cut $33m in spending, a further $57m in savings is being sought, mainly from reducing staff salaries, which management claim comprise 55 per cent of UOW's total expenditure.
Siobhan Wragg, a representative of the National Tertiary Education Union as well as a Bega campus PhD student, said the issue has the potential to go beyond just job cuts.
"What we've been told is that all regional campuses are being assessed for viability," Ms Wragg said on Monday outside the Bega campus.
"So we're doing this to show our value to the community."
Ms Wragg was joined by Mich-Elle Myers from the Maritime Union of Australia as well as fellow PhD students, Bega Valley Shire Council's economic development officer and other supporters.
She is one of five current Doctorate students studying at the campus, which is celebrating its 20th year of operation in Bega. Over that time there have been 500-plus graduates, most of which are in the nursing and teaching fields.
In fact, there is at least one UOW Bega campus graduate teaching at every school in the Bega Valley Shire.
Just as many nurses are employed across the region in numerous sectors such as aged care and general practice as well as the local hospital.
Meanwhile, it's estimated close to 1200 primary and secondary school students every year take part in the campus's In2Uni program.
"And it's building - there's an accelerating rate of graduates, which is part of what's amazing about a place like this. Everyone has a link to the Bega uni," Ms Wragg said.
BVSC economic development officer Alison Vandenbergh said tertiary education facilities such as UOW's regional campuses are "a linchpin" for communities.
"If you don't have tertiary education opportunities in your community, you're in trouble," she said.
"Without the UOW here we'd see a huge loss of our young people.
"You can build your future here and you can find your career here afterwards as well.
"It would not happen without this building and the people who inhabit it."
Ms Myers said a meeting of MUA members in Eden just last week proved the reach of a regional campus, with 25 per cent of those in attendance having some connection to the UOW campus - either directly or through a family member.
"This highlights how far reaching into communities these regional campuses are and how crucial it is to maintain them," Ms Myers said.
"It's so important. Why should you have to travel for an education? It's far better to keep them in the community."