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Ian Smith

Ian Smith

Executive Director, NSW Office of Regional Economic Development

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World-leading education and research centres of excellence

World-leading education and research centres of excellence

Image credit: Advantage Wollongong

In 2018, the education sector in Regional NSW generated A$9 billion for the NSW economy. 114,816 people were employed in education in Regional NSW in 2016.

International education is Australia’s third-largest export, behind only iron ore and coal. Organisations contemplating investing in the NSW education sector have a range of options, including joint ventures with internationally-recognised tertiary institutions. There is a particular focus on serving the institutional aspirations of emerging economies through a renewed focus on English training, skills qualifications, post-graduate qualifications, research and experimental development.                   

Clusters of research excellence have formed across areas of industry strength. Education providers are partnering with industry leaders to meet commercial challenges in many different fields, often with support from the NSW or Australian governments. Research clusters include defence and aerospace in Newcastle, agtech in Armidale and Wagga Wagga, innovation in Wollongong, and renewable energy in the South East and Tablelands region. 

Regional NSW also provides unique learning opportunities to attract students. For example, the University of Sydney’s School of Rural Health has campuses in Dubbo and Orange, providing third and fourth year medical students with an opportunity to live and work in rural communities for at least one year. The school offers accommodation and facilities in both towns, as well as patient care opportunities that do not exist in metropolitan areas. Medicine students have had the opportunity to complete their full six-year degree at the University of NSWs new state-of-the-art Port Macquarie campus since 2017. Watch this video to learn more or view the Port Macquarie Campus brochure.

A 2018 report commissioned by global leader in engineering education and research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) identified Charles Sturt University (CSU) as one of the top four emerging engineering courses in the world and described the CSU degree as ‘completely rethinking what engineering educating should look like’. 

Regional NSW has 1,648 schools, 100 Technical and Further Education (TAFE) facilities, 350 private Registered Training Organisations and five major universities. Residents also enjoy excellent access to high-quality health care and public services.

NSW has a world leading vocational education and training (VET) system. The NSW Government invests over A$2.2 billion to support publicly and privately delivered VET in the state and maintain a pipeline of skills across industries. 

A guide to Regional NSW's universities

World-leading education and research centres of excellence

A focus on EdTech innovation

A focus on EdTech innovation

Regional NSW provides the ingredients for startup success.

Over 15% of Australian startup founders are targeting the education industry, and regional Australia has proven to be a particularly fruitful testing ground for distance education. Technologies from leading Australian online distance education providers can be leveraged to provide education services to a global audience, in partnership with Australian expertise.

Opportunities exist to partner with university innovation hubs, such as the University of Wollongong’s iAccelerate business incubator. This incubator partners startups with the University’s significant student and researcher talent and mature companies.

Government support for the education sector in Regional NSW

The NSW Government is actively supporting the growth of the education sector through its International Education and Research Industry Action Plan.

The NSW and Australian governments provide funding for delivery of education, training and research services, as well as support in developing international markets and a robust regulatory framework.

TAFE NSW’s new Connected Learning Centres and the establishment of Country University Centres across NSW provide students and employers across Regional NSW with greater choice and better access to world-class, learning opportunities for regional communities.

Country Universities Centres offer tertiary education to regional students without the need to leave their local communities, and an accessible workforce for regional business. Find them located at:

  • Broken Hill, Central West region
  • Cooma and Goulburn, South East and Tablelands region
  • Grafton, North Coast region
  • Narrabri and Moree, New England and North West region
  • Griffith and Leeton, Riverina Murray region.

For more details, visit the assistance page.

Key education sector organisations in NSW

Success stories in Regional NSW's education sector

Get in touch

Ian Smith

Executive Director, NSW Office of Regional Economic Development
Office contacts
Suite 1, Level 1
47-59 Wingewarra Street
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