The Balonne branch of the Country Universities Centre is helping students realise that they don't have to leave the bush to complete a tertiary education, with numbers well and truly surpassing all expectations.
With 70 registered students for semester two this year, the centres have exceeded the projected 38 enrolments which they were expected to reach by year four.
Balonne Centre Manager Alix Greenhill said that there are currently 60 students utilising the St George centre and a further ten studying at the Dirranbandi hub.
Ms Greenhill said the centres have filled a gap in the market for rural residents wishing to gain a university degree, with many choosing to get back to the books after discovering the option to do so from their home town or region.
"There was nothing that students could access previously and having the space available, that's dedicated for students, and being able to create that community has obviously been something that was much needed," she said.
"The brand new building does excite people, so I'm sure that's contributed a little bit to the boost in student numbers. A lot of it's also probably been word of mouth too, so students talking to other students.
"I've even got lots of enquiries from people who maybe hadn't wanted to, or hadn't thought they could study previously, who are now wanting to go okay, well, what can I actually do?
"Because we've got the space here to come in and do it, having a physical presence also helps."
The new hubs, which opened earlier this year, give students access to meeting rooms, desktop monitors, textbooks, and communal working spaces.
A number of the students travel into the centre from their home properties around the region, where they might not have access to the quality internet connection required for online learning.
Around 42 per cent of the students registered at the centre are studying degrees in allied health, which will also increase with the opening of the Southern Queensland Rural Health (SQRH) student clinic opening around the start of next year.
Each semester, around 12 allied health students will come to St George for placements and will be able to study at the centre while working from the new clinic.
Ms Greenhill said the CUC centre was a great way for students on rural placements to become part of the community, and that some had already chosen to seek employment in the town after graduation.
As is the basis of the Country Universities Centre program, Ms Greenhill said that these new centres are helping to bridge the gap for rural students and ensure equal opportunity, regardless of postcode.
"Location shouldn't be a barrier to experience any of those things or stop you dreaming," she said.
Several events have already been held in the centre, including a youth summit and careers expo, both of which helped students from all over south west Queensland discover tertiary education options.
"Those events along the way have been really nice to be a part of, to get people excited about careers and what they're going to do after school, it's a little closer than they think and there's so much they can actually do here," Ms Greenhill said.
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