In June 1999 the Mid West Development Commission held a youth forum to encourage young people between 18-30 years of age to become involved in regional development.
At that time the most important issue to emerge was lack of access to university education in the Mid West.
During 2000 the Geraldton University Access Group (GUAG) was formed and all WA universities were approached to offer courses in Geraldton. None would commit without the allocation of fully funded places from the Federal government.
In June 2001 a delegation from GUAG (Lee Morton, Felicity Mitchell and Tony Brooker) travelled to Canberra with the support of the Hon Wilson Tuckey and lobbied the Federal government for regional allocation of the new places. The delegation was successful and set an Australian first with university places allocated specifically for Geraldton.
The University of Western Australia, Curtin University of Technology and Edith Cowan University formed a consortium to bid for the Geraldton university places, with the University of Western Australia taking the role of Administering University. In November 2001, the hard work and dedication by organisations and individuals paid off as the Geraldton Universities Centre was established.
In 2006 the Hon Wilson Tuckey officially opened the Mid West's own purpose built facility in Geraldton. The student body had grown from 20 student places in 2001 to 180 enrolled students in 2010 undertaking a range of bridging and full degree programs.
The GUC became an independent, not for profit, incorporated body in 2010 under the banner of the Geraldton Institute Incorporated.
The GUC's successes speak for themselves:
- 187 students have graduated in Geraldton
- More than 60 Geraldton people have met the academic requirements of GUC’s partner universities to lecturer and tutor in degree programs
- The majority of Geraldton graduates now work in their profession (nursing and teaching) in regional WA in what had previously been classified as “hard to staff” areas
- A high retention and completion rate for the regional students studying at the Centre.
Most students who study at the GUC not only complete their degree in Geraldton (many working in part-time jobs during this time) but also graduate in Geraldton, gain employment in their chosen field and remain in regional WA.