10 May 2023

Cooktown to get university hub, says Entsch

| Matt Nicholls
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Warren Entsch announces the LNP’s commitment to funding a Cairns campus for CQU, matching Labor’s election promise.

COOK Shire mayor Peter Scott has praised the decision to fund a university hub in Cooktown, saying it was something he had been lobbying to get for more than a decade.

Today (Monday), just days out from the federal election, Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch made the announcement that Cooktown would be one of eight communities to share in $14.8 million to create a university centre.

The Cooktown centre would complement one of 26 existing centres operating in Australia.

“This is huge for us,” Cr Scott said when hearing the news.

“I have been trying the whole time I have been here – ever since I sent my kids away to school – to get some kind of university presence in Cooktown.”

The centres provide a direct link to all universities in Australia and Cr Scott hoped James Cook University and CQU would start to ramp up their interest in Cape York students.

“I saw last week that the federal government was supporting the creation of a CQU city campus in Cairns, which is going to be fantastic for the Far North,” Cr Scott said.

“We need our next generation chasing university degrees and bringing that knowledge back home.”

It should be noted that Labor had already announced its support for the CQU campus, meaning it will go ahead regardless of the election result.

Cr Scott said Cook Shire Council had already identified a vacant building on Charlotte Street that would be suitable for the university centre.

Cape York Weekly understands the former TAB building will be used, located next to the Cooktown newsagent.

“We want it to be an innovation hub as well as a study hub. We’ve got a great robotics school at Endeavour Christian College and three great schools in Cooktown,” Cr Scott said.

Mr Entsch welcomed the announcement and said the centre was a key component of the government’s commitment to improving higher education participation and attainment in regional and remote Australia.

“Our local rural and regional students deserve the very best when it comes to their education, and it’s initiatives like this one that will ensure that students can study close to home without having to leave their communities,” he said.

Regional Education Minister Bridget McKenzie said the new centre was an exciting development for Cooktown

“This centre will significantly boost higher education outcomes for current and future students in Cooktown and the surrounding region,” Senator McKenzie said.

“People in regional Australia are less than half as likely to complete a university degree compared with people in cities. It is wonderful that once this centre is up and running, local students won’t need to leave home and relocate to study.

“They will be able to enrol in a university course and complete a degree or another tertiary qualification and their skills could stay in the region and help the community.

The Cooktown centre is expected to be open in October this year.

It will be operated by Country Universities Centre in partnership with Cook Shire Council.

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