Affordable, accessible higher education facilities are incredibly important to rural and regional communities. Recognising this, Snowy Hydro and the Cooma Monaro Shire Council (now the Snowy Monaro Regional Council) joined forces to create the Cooma Universities Centre (CUC) to provide university education opportunities for local students.
Since opening in March 2013, the CUC has had over 185 registrations from students representing 27 different Australian Universities. Students utilise the facilities, including video conferencing, computers and printers – to study both undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in a quiet, conducive study environment.
As of 2014 the CUC became an incorporated, not-for-profit organisation run by a community board, with Snowy Hydro remaining as a major sponsor.
In 2015, in partnership with CQ University, a cohort of 13 students began studying a Bachelor of Education (Early Childhood/Primary) at the CUC. Students access course content online and attend face-to-face tutorials with locally employed tutors.
The CUC is an exemplar for education provision in rural and regional Australia, and in 2017 the Country Universities Centre umbrella organisation was formed to open more centres across NSW based on the flagship model in Cooma. As such, the CUC is in the process of changing its name to Country Universities Centre Snowy Monaro to better represent the geographical region it supports and its affiliation with the other Country Universities Centres.
In early 2018, CUC Far West (Broken Hill) and CUC Goulburn opened signifying the successful expansion of the organisation, and in 2019 CUC will continue to expand throughout regional NSW with additional affiliate centres.