New data from the 2021 census has revealed that Country Universities Centres (CUCs) are leading the way in university student growth across regional NSW.

Over the past five years, university student numbers in NSW towns with CUCs grew by 24.7% compared with an average 5.4% for all non-metropolitan areas.

Snowy Hydro co-founded the very first CUC in Cooma in 2013 and remains an integral supporter of the higher education centre by jointly funding it together with Snowy Monaro Regional Council.

The CUC initiative enables regional and rural university students to study close to home in a campus-like environment with learning facilities, technology including access to computers, wifi, printers, video conferencing and support staff.

Snowy Hydro Acting CEO Roger Whitby said the long-running Cooma CUC partnership continues to be highly successful.

“CUCs are helping to stop the brain drain – they allow regional students to stay in their communities, have access to tertiary education in a supportive environment and ultimately provide local employers, including Snowy Hydro, with qualified workers,” Mr Whitby said.

“Typically there is a high drop-out rate with people studying online courses because they can feel isolated, so the CUC offers real benefits.”

Cooma has seen a university student increase of 64% over the last two census periods (2011-2021), compared with an average 17.5% for non-metro NSW. 

Following the success of the Cooma CUC pilot, a further five centres opened in Broken Hill, Goulburn, Grafton, Griffith/Leeton and Narrabri/Moree in 2018-19.

The network of centres has since grown to 20 regional communities across NSW, Queensland and Victoria with the additional support of the NSW Government and the Australian Government’s Department of Education, Skills and Employment through the Regional University Centres program.

Find out more about Snowy Hydro’s partnership with Country Universities Centre:

Students studying at university by locality

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2021 Census data 

CUC locations and year of openingIncrease 2011-2021Increase 2016-2021
Cooma (2013)* 64.1% 
Broken Hill (2018)22.8%
Goulburn (2018) 18.4%
Grafton (2019)32.3%
Griffith and Leeton (2019)33.8%
Narrabri and Moree (2019) 16.0%
CUC centre average increase24.7%
NSW university students – non-metro17.5%5.4%

*Only the Cooma CUC was operating during the 2016 Census.




Snowy Hydro is committed to ensuring the next generation of locals are equipped with the skills and knowledge to help keep them safe on the roads, with the long-running Young Driver Program playing a crucial role.

For four years Snowy Hydro has partnered with Driving Solutions to provide local students with young driver training. This month more than 275 local young people participated in the program, which helps prepare Learner and Provisional drivers for the driving conditions they face on Snowy Mountains roads.

Since its inception in 2002, the Snowy Hydro Young Driver Program has provided more than 1,600 local students with the opportunity to improve their driving skills and become safer drivers.

Snowy Hydro CEO and Managing Director Paul Broad said the program demonstrated Snowy Hydro’s continued commitment to the safety and well-being of young people living in the Snowy Mountains region. 

“The Snowy Hydro Young Driver Program delivers learning exercises and activities that give our local kids the skills and knowledge to help keep them safe on our unique and at times, challenging, mountain roads,” Mr Broad said.

“These young and inexperienced drivers gain so much from the program – it’s really valuable and we at Snowy Hydro are proud to play a part in ensuring greater safety on the roads where we live and work.”

The program covered topics such as correct seating position and the importance of understanding the difference between vehicles with anti-lock brake systems (ABS) and vehicles without ABS. Students were taught when to fit snow chains on their vehicles while travelling in snow and ice conditions. They were also shown the correct way to use and fit snow chains on a vehicle. 
The activities and exercises provided useful and practical knowledge to assist the students when behind the wheel. Topics included driver attitudes and the effects of distractions when driving, such as mobile phones, passengers and vehicle navigation. Other practical skills were also discussed including how to understand correct and incorrect tyre pressure on their vehicles. 


National Science Week Competition


‘The Science of Snowy’

As part of National Science Week this year, Snowy Hydro is running a ‘Science of the Snowy’ competition for Snowy Mountains students in years 3-6.

Paul Broad, Chief Executive Officer, said that National Science Week was a great opportunity for students to learn more about the science and engineering aspects of the Snowy Scheme.

“The construction of the Snowy Scheme was one of the civil engineering wonders of the modern world and from our pioneering past, we have grown into a modern and innovative energy company,” Mr Broad said.

To enter the competition just tell us your favourite science, technology or engineering fact about the Snowy Scheme. Your entry can be in words, pictures, a drawing or even a video.

Mr Broad said his favourite fact is that the Snowy Scheme acts like Australia’s biggest battery.

“While the Snowy Scheme may not look like a typical battery, it acts just like one. In the same way as a battery stores energy, the Snowy Scheme stores water which can be quickly used to create energy when it’s needed”, Mr Broad said.

Each winner will get two tickets to a VIP tour of the Snowy Scheme (including a power station) with some of Snowy Hydro’s very own scientists and engineers.

All winning and highly commended entries will also be displayed in the Snowy Hydro Discovery Centre in Cooma.

The competition is open to students at schools within the Snowy Valleys Council and Snowy Monaro Regional Council regions and in years 3-6.

The ‘Science of the Snowy’ competition opens on 14 August 2017 and closes at 5pm on 22 September 2017. An independent panel of judges will select the winners, with the panel to be announced shortly.

For more information on how to enter and some Snowy Hydro topic ideas visit our NSWk competition page here