ALTHOUGH Mackay's CQUniversity campus has plans to become bigger and better, Capricorn Enterprise chief executive officer Mary Carroll says Rockhampton will always be its heart.
The merger between the university and CQ TAFE became official as of yesterday across all campuses, the first partnership of its kind in the State.
Ms Carroll, who attended the Mackay celebration of the merger, said Rockhampton was the central campus of the 12 in Queensland.
"Rockhampton has always been and always will be the head campus of CQU," Ms Carroll said yesterday.
"It was a proud moment for Capricorn Enterprise as this has been a priority for us since 2010.
"It's been a magnificent realisation of two very successful institutions coming together.
"It will not only provide a streamlined education path but also the key to integration between the TAFE and degree courses."
The new entity has 35,000 students spread across 19 sites, including Emerald and Clermont.
In a game changer for how the multi-million dollar business of regional education is done, the merger will deliver a practical one-stop shop.
Students' options will include a certificate or diploma, in professions such as hairdressing, or training as a boilermaker then moving on to engineering.
State Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek said the historic merger placed the university in a good position to attract students nationally and from overseas.
Millions of dollars already have been spent on new buildings at the Ooralea campus. Old TAFE buildings near the CBD will be refurbished or demolished and replaced with purpose-built facilities that will bring a new vibe to the inner city.
Yesterday's event in Mackay was full of humour before an appreciative crowd. It was themed on a "spirit of collaboration" in the staged verbal sparring between the two official hosts - TAFE faculty manager Steve Birg and university deputy vice-chancellor Professor Pierre Viljoen.
Federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne said he was confident the merger would work well.