It's significant that efforts towards establishing a university campus in Tamworth have progressed to the points where Council and the University of New England are about to sign a Memorandum of Understanding. There has been real progress in recent years and a Memorandum of Understanding is a significant step to make sure we get this across the line. A university campus in Tamworth is something successive groups of Councillors here have been wanting to see and so have local residents.
A Tamworth campus is within reach and a Memorandum of Understanding with the University of New England is a significant step forward. The memorandum outlines a number of proposed activities and ways we can work together. These include obtaining uses of premises by the university for below market value rent for an initial period of a least two years and then consider commercial returns, jointly developing a scholarship fund, establishing English language training for the immigrant workforce in the Tamworth region and jointly promoting UNE course delivery and research opportunities. Council and UNE will also work jointly on new programs and initiatives to advance UNE's Future Fit strategy and Council's Blueprint 100.
There are real and tangible economic, educational and lifestyle benefits for our region which will come hand-in-hand with a university campus. Tamworth now loses many of young people who relocate to undertake university studies. Data tells us that of the young people who leave our region to attend university, only 20 per cent come back home. We want our young people to be able to live and learn in their own community and put their learnings to use right here. They will soon be able to learn skills here and then put them to work here. The opportunity is also there for a campus to attract students from other areas to our region.
It is wonderful to see how the interest in having a local campus has grown in the wider community in recent years. Support and advocacy from the Tamworth University Reference Group and Tamworth Businesses Chamber has added weight to the cause. The work done by the University's Vice-Chancellor and her staff to progress this has been simply outstanding.
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