The state member for Wagga, Dr Joe McGirr has weighed into the unfolding job losses situation at Charles Sturt University, questioning in Parliament whether the institution has "wandered from its purpose".
Last Thursday, Dr McGirr spoke to Parliament via a private member's bill, putting forward his concerns for the future of the university.
"Has the university wandered from its purpose for regional New South Wales? Once a source of regional pride, there is now concern the university has become just another second tier corporate education provider," he said.
The comments come off the back of the university's ongoing 'sustainable futures' program, which seeks to reduce its $80 million loss in revenue and predicted $49.5 million deficit by mid-2021.
The program has so far involved a range of cost cutting initiatives resulting in widespread job losses as well as course consolidations or removals.
The measures, Dr McGirr suggested, are at odds with the wider community's population growth strategy to see Wagga grow to 100,000 residents by 2038.
"A key element of this vision is university education," Dr McGirr said in Parliament.
"It provides growth through jobs, research and infrastructure; it supports our communities with education and training; it underpins independent and critical thinking and analysis. Central to this vision is Charles Sturt University."
The Daily Advertiser put Dr McGirr's questions directly to the university, but it refused to comment.
Acknowledging the university's willingness to meet with himself and the city's other political members, Dr McGirr told Parliament that he would publicly support proposals to have "stronger representation from regional New South Wales".
"I believe that at least two-thirds of the council's membership should come from regional areas," he said.
"The contention that people with the requisite skills for council membership do not reside in regional areas is simply not supportable.
"I have raised this directly with the Minister for Tertiary Education and I have formally written to him to seek his support for the council to have a two-thirds membership from regional New South Wales. I will be pursuing this issue."
The need to increase Wagga's involvement on the university's council is something alumni group Friends of CSU has been pushing for a while.
Founding members Trish Gray and Doug Hill recently wrote the Serving and Supporting the Regions Proposal which was delivered to federal Member for the Riverina Michael McCormack and minister for education Dan Tehan.
In letter of response to Mr McCormack, Mr Tehan told the Friends "the government does not intervene in [the] academic or corporate policies and procedures" of Australian universities.
"I acknowledge the importance of the relationship between Friends of CSU Riverina - Wagga and its local higher education provider in ensuring the needs of local communities are voiced and considered," Mr Tehan wrote.
After reading the letter, Ms Gray expressed some gratitude that at least "they have recognised the importance of the university to the community".
"I guess their hands are tied but it is nice to have that acknowledged," she said.
"I do think more can still be done."
Citing the recently announced $400 million Job-ready Graduates Package, Mr Tehan said he would be "committed to strengthening the role of tertiary education providers in regional development and growing Australia's region".
However, when portioned out across the country's regional universities, Ms Gray said, the money "amounts to very little, it's not enough to save [CSU]".