By Simon Fraser
Electoral candidate for Deputy Mayor and Alderman, Glenorchy City Council.
TWENTY-five years ago, I left school at the end of grade nine to start a trade as a carpenter/joiner.
My teachers at the time had some concerns, as they thought I had potential that may not be achieved if I left school early.
My parents however, both of whom had no education beyond grade 10, were insistent that a trade was the best option for me.
I’ve always enjoyed working with my hands and I worked happily as a carpenter for several years.
At 21-years-old, recently married and with a baby on the way, I decided to resume my education by going to the University of Tasmania as a mature aged student.
It was a steep learning curve and I failed my first university assignment because I had no idea how to write an essay.
University was an expensive undertaking, given the lost income and the debt incurred for the tuition fees.
But, the opportunities it brought to me have been priceless.
Given my experiences, it’s not surprising that I’m passionate about education and that I want more people to follow the path I’ve taken. If I can do it, anyone can.
But there is one alarming statistic from the 2016 census that relates to educational attainment.
In Sandy Bay, 44 per cent of people have a bachelor’s degree or higher, but in Glenorchy, this drops to 8.1 per cent.
This helps explain the persistent income and social inequality between the two suburbs. Without higher levels of education, it’s likely that this difference will increase.
I think most Glenorchy citizens would agree that this is not the future we want for ourselves.
But a traditional university degree is impractical for many people – it’s a huge commitment of time and money and for many people living in Glenorchy on a tight budget, this may be too great.
Recognising these barriers, the University of Tasmania has created the University College.
The University College offers associate degrees that have been specifically designed with a “hands on” approach, with a large part of the study based in successful Tasmanian businesses.
These degrees are shorter (two-years) and are delivered over four ten-week terms per year, making it easier for parents to manage their study around school terms.
The college offers huge potential for those of us in the northern suburbs to access an education that provides advanced, job-specific skills and gets more of our citizens ready for the jobs of the future.
Imagine the difference it could make to our culture if we could negotiate a physical presence for the college in Glenorchy.
Rather than university seeming distant and unattainable, our children’s daily exposure to the brand and presence of a university institution could be the start of huge cultural change.
*The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Tasmania.
Caption: Simon Fraser, candidate for Glenorchy City Council Deputy Mayor and Alderman, with student Andrew Bailey at Glenorchy LINC.