Shana Elliott, left, and Jay Meredith admire a Fraser Coast campus model with Mayor George Seymour and USC Director of Northern Campuses Graham Young.
Shana Elliott, left, and Jay Meredith admire a Fraser Coast campus model with Mayor George Seymour and USC Director of Northern Campuses Graham Young. Contributed

Council eyes $20 million for USC campus expansion

THE Fraser Coast Regional Council is seeking $20million of a $172.9million windfall for the Hinkler Regional Deal to fund a major expansion to the region's USC campus.

As part of the plan, USC will contribute $2million and the council will give its current library building and land on which the university will build its extension.

It comes after the Federal Government announced several key projects would be funded under the Hinkler Regional Deal on Monday.

Cr Seymour said many students were leaving the region to study, never to return.

"Statistics show the number of residents with Bachelor degrees on the Fraser Coast is only 9.1 per cent compared to the Queensland average of 18.3 per cent,” Cr Seymour said.

"Expanding our university campus offers greater opportunities for people in Hervey Bay, Maryborough and surrounding regions to study close to where they live.”

Cr Seymour said the current library would be incorporated into the council's new Hervey Bay administration and disaster co-ordination centre.

Tenders for the projects have been called.

"Relocating our library to the new administration centre is consistent with the Hervey Bay CBD Master Plan, which has been developed over a number of years with significant community consultation,” Cr Seymour said.

The CBD development project will receive $40million under the Hinkler Regional Deal, MP Keith Pitt announced yesterday.

Design concepts reveal the university plans to finance a new student commons area, a design and planning studio, a social learning space and new laboratory workstations, along with a marine research centre.

Hervey Bay Chamber of Commerce president Sandra Holebrook said the expansion would encourage Fraser Coast students to study locally, and attract international students.

"We would like to see Hervey Bay and the Fraser Coast as a university city and the development and growth of the university would lead to that,” Ms Holebrook said.

"There are some international countries who really value a studious, calm and safe environment.”

Ms Holebrook said she hoped the expansion would one day reach Maryborough.

"There are areas in Maryborough that would make a wonderful university campus because of the heritage nature of the buildings,” she said.