Enthusiasm, passion and a commitment to higher education were common themes throughout the launch of the new Uni Hub Spencer Gulf at Central Oval today.
Delegates from a range of stakeholders including the federal and state government, the education department, students, parents and Uni Hub partners were in attendance.
Port Augusta Secondary student Danielle Brown started proceedings with an Acknowledgement of Country, before handing the microphone over to Port Augusta Mayor Brett Benbow.
In South Australia 16.2 per cent of the population are enrolled in a university or tertiary institution, in Port Augusta that statistic drops to just 3.1 per cent.
"It's a great opportunity and it's not just for our youth. It's for middle aged people, young parents and older people who cant travel to do their education," Mr benbow said.
"There is a problem there and we need to fix it. This will allow them to not only study locally, but also be employed locally when they have finished which will greatly improve our skill base."
Member for Stuart Dan van Holst Pellekaan and Member for Grey Rowan Ramsey both championed the initiative in passionate addresses to a packed out room.
The Hub will officially open in February next year in a co-location on the TAFE SA campus.
Courses available include Masters of Education, Bachelor of Nursing, Bachelor of Social Work, Bachelor of Psychological Science - as well as others that are currently out for tender.
Student's studying with the Hub's university partners will also receive face-to-face mentoring and tutorials to assist them in achieving their academic goals.
Uni Hub Spencer Gulf chair Dr Jen Cleary said the launch date was a huge milestone in the project's timeline.
"This is a huge milestone, it makes it real. People can see and touch what's going on and they know that we will be here and we will be embedded in our community in Port Augusta," she said.
"There are all sorts of reasons why people cant move out of their community for tertiary education, so to have local access to courses that people want and that industry needs means we can continue to grow our communities to ensure that we remain thriving well into the future."
The vision for the Hub started eight years ago when Ms Cleary visited the Geraldton Universities Centre in Western Australia.
The Centre has provided a model for the Hub both here and in Port Pirie.
"Geraldton has been going 10 years now and they currently have 300 students," Ms Cleary said.
"So we are looking to see a trajectory where we just have a really vibrant, thriving university community in our midst."