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Taking University to the Students: Forging Connections and Inclusion Through Regional University Centres (RUCs)


For regional students, going to university frequently involves moving away from important home, family and community connections to forge new connections in unfamiliar environments. This is a daunting prospect discouraging many from considering university as an option. But what if university could come to them, allowing them to stay where they feel most connected, whilst also becoming connected with other students and developing a sense of inclusion within university culture? Recent research with high school students in regional South Australia indicates that the combination of online delivery (increasingly mainstreamed due to COVID-19) and the growing presence of Regional University Centres (RUCs) may provide the opportunity for this to happen. This paper discusses these findings within the context of the challenges for regional students in moving away from their connections. It argues that, instead, important learning connections may be offered within their local communities through the collaboration between universities and RUCs.

Published: 2022-11-29
Pages:46 to 53
Section:Practice Reports
How to Cite
Stone, C., King, S. ., & Ronan, C. (2022). Taking University to the Students: Forging Connections and Inclusion Through Regional University Centres (RUCs). Student Success, 13(3), 46-53.

Author Biographies

The University of Newcastle
Australia Australia

Dr Cathy Stone is an independent consultant and researcher in post-secondary student equity and success and a Conjoint Associate Professor (Social Work) with the University of Newcastle. She worked for many years as a student success practitioner, developing, managing and evaluating higher education support and success programs for both on-campus and online students. She was an inaugural Equity Fellow with the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education (NCSEHE) and continues to work on NCSEHE and other research projects related to improving the experience of online, mature-age and regional students.

University of South Australia
Australia Australia

Professor Sharron King (PhD) is the Dean of Programs (UniSA College): Education Futures at the University of South Australia with a long history of senior leadership, research and innovation in improving educational outcomes for both academic staff and students. Her research interests focus primarily on students' transition to university, as well as student health and well-being and widening access to university for students who face educational disadvantage. Previous grants include a National Priority Pool grant to enhance the academic success and wellbeing of regional students and two NCSEHE grants exploring first-in-family students experience at university and key barriers inhibiting regional students from undertaking higher education. Outcomes from these collaborative projects include resources that have led to changes in the ways that universities support students’ transition to university. Resources such as the information guides for both regional and first in family students and their families on what to expect at university, along with guidelines for academics and support staff on how best to support non-traditional students entering university have helped to improve the retention, success and wellbeing of commencing students. 

Country Universities Centre
Australia Australia

Chris Ronan is the Director of Equity and Engagement with the Country Universities Centre network. He has worked on national research projects with the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education (NCSEHE) and the University of South Australia in Regional, Rural and Remote higher education policy, student equity, widening participation and rural student transitions. Chris is on the National Executive team for the Society for the Provision of Education in Rural Australia (SPERA) and is the Director of the National Conference for Regional, Rural, and Remote Education.

Open Access Journal
ISSN 2205-0795