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Raiders star David Shillington, one of 16 Canberra players who returned to or began university last week, will today (Friday) help club and NRL officials and academics launch the University of Canberra’s entry to the game’s Graduates of League program.

Shillington will join NRL Senior Welfare and Education Manager Paul Heptonstall, University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor Professor Stephen Parker AO and Raiders CEO Don Furner at the signing of the agreement for the NRL’s Graduates of League program before leaving for Newcastle for Sunday’s Telstra Premiership clash with the Knights.

The program, which has grown from one academic institution in 2012 to 16 this year, is unique in Australian sport and aims to help players successfully complete their studies by providing support through mentoring and academic tuition at the participating academic institutions.

Shillington, who is in the second year of his Bachelor of Business studies at the University of Canberra, is among a record 220 NRL and Holden Cup (NYC) players enrolled in university this season.

The number of NRL players (75) enrolled in 2014 is almost three times what it was in 2008 (28); while Holden Cup player enrolments at university have more than tripled from 40 in 2008 to 145 this year.