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RUN study details universities’ massive regional impact


Brigid Veale
26 June 2013

The Regional Universities Network (RUN) has released a regional impact study

A new study has confirmed the crucial role regional universities play in their communities through their contribution to social, cultural, environmental and economic development.

The Regional Universities Network (RUN) has released a regional impact study – Regional Universities Network: Engaging with regions, building a stronger nation – which demonstrates the myriad ways in which the RUN universities are making significant and diverse contributions.

Southern Cross University’s work through the Northern United Football Team Wellness Program, Sustain Northern Rivers and the Bundjalung Cultural Mapping Project are examples highlighted in the impact study.

The report follows the release of an economic impact study, which showed the six RUN universities contribute a total of $3 billion ($2.1 billion in gross domestic product; $1.2 billion in household income) and provided more than 14,000 (FTE) jobs.

Southern Cross University Vice Chancellor Professor Peter Lee said this latest study demonstrated how tightly regional universities were woven into the fabric of regional communities.

“Our contribution to the region goes far beyond our economic contribution. Through our teaching and research we play an active role in the vibrancy and health of our regions and will continue to look for ways to ensure a bright future for all our communities,” Professor Lee said.

“We are working alongside our councils, community organisations and businesses to respond to skills shortages and to retain and attract professional workers in our cities and towns. We are also delivering new solutions for regional problems in key areas such as health and the environment.”

Professor Lee said this study highlighted the significant bond that universities based in regional Australia had with their surrounding communities.

“SCU takes its role as both a ‘thought leader’ and member of the community seriously, and this report highlights the disconnect between this critical role and the current one-size-fits-all Commonwealth policy and funding framework for universities,” Professor Lee said.

“At a time when funding for universities is under threat, we need a new policy framework that acknowledges the vital role universities play within our regions and supports them to continue to drive sustainable development.”

In releasing the study, RUN Chair David Battersby said: “The RUN universities make contributions to their regions through three interrelated core functions: learning and teaching; research and innovation; and service. The study examines how each of these core functions relates to a range of dimensions vital to the development of regional Australia, including human capital development, regional governance and planning, community development, health and ageing, environmental sustainability and industry and business development."

The six-member universities of RUN are CQUniversity, Southern Cross University, University of Ballarat, University of New England, University of Southern Queensland, and University of the Sunshine Coast.

For information on the study visit

Regional Universities Network

Photo: Northern United rugby league player Clinton Roberts receives a health check from osteopathy Masters students Francois Naef (right) and Laurie Axtens (left).