Why staying in Warrnambool to study could be the best decision you ever make

Many regional and rural students have no option other than to move away for further study but if you’re living in Warrnambool that’s not the case. Having a world class university in your backyard makes it well worth considering the option of staying local to study.

Bonnie Dwyer, a Bachelor of Nursing/Bachelor of Midwifery student at Deakin has lived in Warrnambool her whole life. Despite having many options at her disposal, when it came time to choose a course the Warrnambool campus won out. ‘When I decided I really wanted to study midwifery and I thought I may as well stay here and keep living at home.’

A smooth transition

Dr Linda Thies, the Language and Learning Advisor at Deakin Warrnambool, works with students and staff to improve the study experience. She says the leap from secondary school to university is often a time of great change. ‘There are things that students don’t know that they won’t know until they get to uni – it’s a different environment and there is the expectation that they will be independent learners.’

While some students thrive, most students can do even better with additional support. ‘It depends on the nature of the student, the size of their classes and the residence that they are staying in if they’ve moved away. There are so many variables that can be positives or negatives for them.’

Knowing that transition to university may be challenging, Bonnie was keen to keep some consistency in her life. ‘First year was crazy – there were just so many different things to get used to so being at home was a real benefit. I found that being in Warrnambool was the one thing that didn’t change. It was really nice to have something constant.’

According to Dr Thies, it’s not uncommon for students move away and discover it’s not for them. ‘They try a course in Melbourne and when it doesn’t work out they think “I’m a failure and university is not for me” – which is not really the case. They could be studying locally and have the support of their family and a whole range of other supports as well.’

An intimate way to learn

Dr Thies says the benefit of Warrnambool’s smaller community is the ease of making supportive connections. ‘We get to know the students very well. They tell me that they can just knock on their lecturer’s door and know that they will be happy to chat to them. I don’t think that happens on larger campuses.’

Bonnie agrees, ‘The lecturers are amazing. There are only ten of us in my midwifery class and we are all so close. Erin, the lecturer, knows us all personally. If you ring her she knows it’s you calling and she’ll help you out with assignments or questions if you’re on placement. Everyone knows your name and the sense of community is really nice.’

If students run into trouble, Dr Thies says it’s a seamless process to find them additional help. ‘We can easily introduce a student to another support person and help them to access services if they need to. Students can access support really easily here.’

The lecturers are amazing. There are only ten of us in my midwifery class and we are all so close. Erin, the lecturer, knows us all personally. If you ring her she knows it’s you calling and she’ll help you out with assignments or questions if you’re on placement. Everyone knows your name and the sense of community is really nice.

Bonnie Dwyer

Bachelor of Nursing/Bachelor of Midwifery student

A financial advantage

Working part time while studying, Bonnie has been able to save money by continuing to live at home with her parents. ‘There are all these extra costs like textbooks and equipment and you don’t realise until you get to uni so having extra money helps.’

For Bonnie, being able to comfortably afford overseas travel has been the icing on the cake. ‘Over the break this year I went over to Europe for three weeks. I don’t think I would have been able to afford that if I lived away for study. It is nice that I can go on a holiday and still have savings when I return.’

Dr Thies says students who rent in Warrnambool also report that they are saving money. ‘The financial benefits of staying in Warrnambool is one of the key things that students talk about. General accommodation here is cheaper so compared to the city, the cost of rent for a share house is very reasonable.’

An investment in the future

Dr Thies often runs into students that she worked with some time ago. ‘I’ll see them at the supermarket in town and hear their success stories. Sometimes they’ll tell me they are doing a masters degree or a PhD or they have a high level position. There is a continuity of contact with students and they feel like Deakin Warrnambool has been a home base.’

Bonnie plans to move to Melbourne at some point for employment or a graduate year. ‘A lot of people say you should move away to spread your wings but I’ve always thought of it that you can’t really spread your wings until you’ve got your degree anyway. If you go to Melbourne you’re still just a student. You can’t really do much. That’s why I decided to wait until I have a degree and then I can go and find myself a bit more.’

Until then, Bonnie is very happy where she is. ‘Those of us who stayed have all loved being here – we all say it’s been so good.’

Find out more about the opportunities at Deakin Warrnambool