Face-to-face university courses for Cooma

NEGOTIATIONS are underway to bring face-to-face university studies to the Cooma Universities Centre (CUC).

The centre, which offers university level studies by distance education, has been open for less than 12 months, but having already been such a success, there are moves to offer a handful of degrees face-to-face.

Cooma Universities Centre Coordinator Zoe Dawson has been in talks with a number of universities including the University of Canberra, and Charles Sturt University, and is looking at offering degrees in nursing, tourism, business-online marketing, education and engineering.

Rather than being completed by distance education, the courses would be delivered as 'supported learning', which is a combination of both distance and face-to-face learning.

"Distance learning means students can study at their own time and pace, wherever suits them (the CUC being one of those locations)," Ms Dawson said.

"[It] can be very isolating and requires a lot of dedication and commitment, and research has shown the dropout rates are higher than if the student was on campus.

"[With supported learning] students will be in a cohort so will have peer support throughout the course.

"They will spend the majority of the time studying online content (either on their own or they would have the chance to meet up with other students doing the same course) and then, once a week (depending on the course), students will have a face-to-face tutorial at the Cooma Universities Centre by a professional tutor (employed by the University - preferably someone local) to keep them on track, answer questions and deliver content in a personalised setting."

For example, with nursing being a practical health degree, students are required to do theory, which can be offered online, but also a compulsory practical component.

If students wish to study nursing they need to be on campus or travel to a campus a number of times a week.

What Ms Dawson is hoping to do is establish a clinical school in Cooma, specially aimed at training nurses, and doctors from the Australian National University who currently work with the hospital. Then Cooma could offer all components of the nursing degree right here in town.

The theory and study could be done at CUC, clinical training at the facility and practical placements at the hospital.

Ms Dawson is hoping to work with local companies to offer work experience and placements in fields associated with the degree the student is studying. For the tourism degree that would involve tourism operators across the region and for online marketing potentially birdsnest, education would be with local schools while engineering could be done in collaboration with Snowy Hydro, Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation and the council.

Ms Dawson said the possibility of offering the new courses was still in negotiations and the next step was to see if there was the need or want in the community and start getting expressions of interest.

She said the plan was to make the CUC recognised as the central learning hub for the region.

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