One of the most disappointing things we witness each year in Geraldton is the talent drain that occurs as many of our best and brightest make their way to the big smoke to attend university. Some return, some don't.
As an employer, it can be challenging at times to find staff who love living in the region and posses the necessary qualifications to carry out the job at hand.
And as parents we want our children to have as many opportunities as possible, as well as the fantastic family friendly lifestyle living in Geraldton affords us. Often in the past we have had to pick one at the expense of the other.
But that is starting to change, thanks in no small part to the growth the Geraldton Universities Centre (GUC) has experienced since its launch in 2002.
Back then a humble 20 places were available, but this year GUC will crack the 200 student mark for the first time.
Natalie Nelmes, who is the director at GUC, tells us that the number this year is around 214, up from approx 180 in 2014.
We asked Natalie about the make-up of the students, whether they're people who would have left for Perth, or people would have stayed in Geraldton anyway but just had less options at their disposal.
We were told that it's a strong mix of both.
She said a large portion are school leavers; around a quarter. In the past these students would have had to relocate to Perth, or study externally.
About 20% are students who went to Perth for uni, not liked it, and returned to Geraldton. Without GUC operating, their uni life would have been over, and they would have had to choose other options.
Some have come through TAFE pathways (Durack), and there's also a number of mature age folks, who are quite committed to region. They now have more options when it comes to learning and training.
There are eight courses on offer at GUC at this point in time, and the offerings have been steadily growing. As the courses roll out over the coming years to include second, third and fourth year students in new courses, numbers are expected to continue to grow. New courses get added as industry and student demand becomes apparent. GUC is also looking at the possibility of post graduate courses in the future.
Most Significant about the growth - The Campus Experience
While the growth at GUC is impressive in itself, Natalie Nelmes says the most significant thing about having this many students is that an entire campus experience is starting to blossom, which is very important for students.
Ms Nelmes says: "The students are part of something bigger, part of a real university experience. We now have a student association."
The "social life" aspect of attending university is a big part of the appeal. The University of NSW says that students that have a good social life and a solid on-campus network often find academic work easier to accomplish.
Courses on offer include the Steps Bridging program (alternative Uni entrance course), Education (Early Childhood and Primary Teaching), Nursing, Accounting, Business, Communications, Phycological Science, Social work (first time this year), Engineering (2 year associates degree).