WELCOME MOVE: USC Fraser Coast students Will O'Neil, 18 and Mason McKenna, 19, have welcomed the new funding announcement as a much-needed boost to campus life in Hervey Bay.
WELCOME MOVE: USC Fraser Coast students Will O'Neil, 18 and Mason McKenna, 19, have welcomed the new funding announcement as a much-needed boost to campus life in Hervey Bay. Blake Antrobus

USC FUNDING: MP's heat on own party melts uni freeze

LLEW O'Brien's fight to lift a funding freeze on the Fraser Coast USC campus has paid off as the Federal Government relaxes restrictions for rural universities.

But the Wide Bay MP has vowed to continue choosing his community's position on the issue over his party's, saying people were "in the wrong job” if they weren't prepared to take a stand, even against their own side.

It follows the announcement of a $30.2 million funding windfall, which will be shared between the Caboolture and Fraser Coast USC campuses.

Mr O'Brien told the Chronicle he thought the funding grant was an acceptable outcome to satisfy the "anomaly” for USC.

"This is specifically money for the Fraser Coast being shared with Caboolture that came about because of the advocacy of myself and (Hinkler MP) Keith Pitt,” he said.

"It doesn't matter what team you're on, you must represent your local area first.

"I made that call against the freeze in May and will continue to do so as long as I'm in my position, even if it means going against the party position.”

The freeze led to staunch criticism from many in the industry including USC Vice-Chancellor Professor Greg Hill who said it would prevent increasing intake or expanding campuses.

Funding for universities was frozen in March.

It's hoped yesterday's boost will ease pressure for regional campuses struggling to find support for new students.

The grant will allow an additional 150 students to study at the Fraser Coast campus next year.

Prof Hill said the recognition of the struggles at the Hervey Bay campus would allow them to "get on with what we want to do in the Fraser Coast”.

"This announcement recognises that we were 150 places short due to the funding freeze, but we will now be treated just as everyone else is,” Prof Hill said.

"Because USC took over responsibility for Fraser Coast in 2016 and Caboolture in 2018, it meant that we weren't receiving Commonwealth funding for many students who we were already teaching.”

USC Fraser Coast students Will O'Neil and Mason McKenna hoped the additional students would help improve campus life.



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