CY O'Connor Institute has begun talks with Edith Cowan University to determine the feasibility of the delivery of a Bachelor of Education primary program in the Wheatbelt.
A memorandum of understanding was recently signed by ECU vice-chancellor Kerry Cox and CY O’Connor managing director John Scott.
The university currently offers the program at its Mt Lawley campus but the signing marks the start of a study into the demand for the degree course in the Wheatbelt.
ECU education and arts faculty dean Lynne Cohen said the university was pleased to partner with CY O’Connor Institute on the initiative.
“ECU already has a regional footprint with a campus in Bunbury and we are delighted to explore the possibility of delivering our innovative degree program in the Wheatbelt,” she said.
Mr Scott said the institute had traditionally been a regional provider of vocational education and training and this would not change but it had decided to expand its educational focus to include higher education delivered in partnership with universities.
“It is important for the social and economic development of the Wheatbelt that people have equitable access to higher education as this can open up so many opportunities for young people,” he said.
“With the imminent closure of higher-education programs at Muresk, the only option for Wheatbelt residents will be to study externally or move to Perth.”
The market research phase started earlier this month and will run for two months.
Mr Scott said, subject to a favourable outcome from the market research studies, the two institutions would continue to collaborate in the planning and preparation for the degree program which was likely to start in 2014.
“I commend the institute’s governing council for its vision in supporting such partnerships to make available higher-education programs that meet the educational demands of people in the Wheatbelt and beyond.”