CY O'CONNOR Institute has started talks with Edith Cowan University to determine the feasibility of the delivery of a Bachelor of Education (Primary) program in the Wheatbelt.
A memorandum of understanding was recently signed by vice-chancellor of ECU Kerry Cox and managing director of the institute John Scott.
The signing marks the start of a study into the demand for the degree course in the Wheatbelt.
The university currently offers the program at its Mount Lawley campus.
"We are delighted to partner with CY O’Connor Institute in this ground-breaking initiative,” ECU executive dean Faculty of Education and Arts Lynne Cohen said.
"ECU already has a regional footprint with a campus in Bunbury and we are delighted to explore the possibility of delivering our innovative degree program in the Wheatbelt.”
Mr Scott said the institute had traditionally been a regional provider of vocational education and training.
This would not change but it had decided to expand its educational focus to include higher education delivered in partnership with universities.
"I commend the institute's governing council for its vision in supporting such partnerships to make available higher education programs that meet the educational demands of people in the Wheatbelt and beyond,” Mr Scott said.
"It is important for the social and economic development of the Wheatbelt that people have equitable access to higher education as this can open up so many opportunities for young people.
"With the imminent closure of higher education programs at Muresk, the only option for Wheatbelt residents will be to study externally or move to Perth.”
The market research phase is expected to start in early September and run for two months.
Subject to a favourable outcome, the two institutions will continue to collaborate in the planning and preparation for the degree program which is likely to start in 2014, according to Mr Scott.