Bega's University of Wollongong campus has just had the largest intake of nurses in its history.
Campus manager Samantha Avitaia said there had been a 50 per cent increase in nursing degree applications this year, with several saying it was a direct result of COVID-19 and a keenness to help.
"In the past we have never reached our enrolment cap - this year we have had to have a waiting list from all the people that applied," Ms Avitaia said.
HSC leavers Mirri Dalziel and Josephine Bonney said that especially after the strain put on nurses in 2020 with coronavirus, they felt it was a sector they wanted to join and support.
"I also think that the Bega campus has a really good nursing facility so I knew starting here would be really positive," Ms Bonney said.
The students said they chose the Bega campus because they had grown up in the area and liked the idea of continuing their studies in smaller scale classrooms.
"I've lived here all my life, so it was kind of comforting instead of moving away," Ms Bonney said.
"I think the best thing is that if you need help with something, there's always someone here that you can actually speak to face to face and you know them, it's a first name basis," Ms Dalziel added.
There had been a mix of reasons behind people's choices for enrolling in the subject Ms Avitaia said.
"Some people have had a change of career heart during the pandemic seeing it as the stable, supportive and helpful role that it is," she said.
"Some of them have been to the hospitals themselves and thought 'oh that's what I want to do' and others were already working in an area of nursing and saw it as a good time to upgrade their skills going into the next level."
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Ms Avitaia said there was a vibrant environment in the first year students because there are people from all sorts of different backgrounds.
"We have a mixture of males and females, which is great for gender balance in the industry," she said.
"We also have quite a number of Indigenous students as well, which will really help with the shortage of Indigenous nurses in rural areas, so we're really proud to be training them."
Ms Avitaia said with the shortage of aged care workers in the region, the local aged care industry had reached out to the university to inform students it can offer employment while they are studying.
Another sector at the Bega campus that has been doing well is teaching students, as the number of teaching graduates being employed locally has increased.
"From our last two years of teaching graduates, they've all been employed locally and the schools are contacting us asking if they've got any more school graduates," Ms Avitaia said.
Ms Avitaia believed the increase in demand for teachers was a result of people moving regionally during the pandemic.
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