THE University of Ballarat will be taking over the Gippsland campus of Monash University.
The vice-chancellors of Monash University and the University of Ballarat, Professors Ed Byrne and David Battersby, made the announcement today.
As part of the change, new courses for Gippsland could include engineering, graphic design and multimedia, human movement and sports science, early childhood, metallurgy and health science.
Under the proposition, the vice-chancellors said the Gippsland campus would also be able to pursue greater flexibility in entry requirements and could respond more quickly and effectively to the demands of the local community, tailoring education to better meet the needs of students who live, work and engage in a regional setting. Continued development of close and effective links with the regional TAFEs, such as Advance TAFE, will be an important part of this, but the Gippsland campus would continue as a dedicated higher education campus.
Current Monash Gippsland students will receive a Monash degree upon graduation.
Monash will retained its medical school, which has a campus at Sale.
The two universities need to complete their own due diligence processes, including undertaking consultations with staff, students and other stakeholders. It is hoped any new model would take effect from January 1, 2014.
The vice-chancellors said this was an exciting opportunity to make a difference in the delivery of higher education to regional communities in Victoria.
The proposition would support the economic development of the Gippsland and Ballarat/Wimmera regions in the years ahead by ensuring there would be a thriving broad-based regional university that facilitates learning through education and research, and which provides the foundation for regional growth and competitiveness.
Monash vice-chancellor Professor Ed Byrne said it was well known Monash University had been looking at ways to enable the Gippsland campus to better meet the needs of its communities, including improving university participation rates regionally.
“Towards the end of 2012 the suggestion emerged to join the Gippsland campus with the University of Ballarat to form an expanded regionally focused university. This flowed from the shared desire of the two universities to improve the delivery of regional higher education,” Professor Byrne said.
“It is my belief that by bringing together the expertise of both institutions, the expanded university would be able to grow into one of Australia’s best regional higher education providers.”
University of Ballarat vice-chancellor, Professor David Battersby, said the new approach would allow the bringing together of skills and expertise developed at both Gippsland and Ballarat to the benefit of all the communities that they serve.
“The University of Ballarat has extensive experience in delivering in-person support to students studying across a widely dispersed region, while the Gippsland campus has considerable expertise in delivering distance education and online learning,” he said.
The new arrangement would also enable the range of courses being offered by the University of Ballarat and the Gippsland campus to be expanded by drawing on the knowledge and expertise residing within them. Each also has considerable research expertise and industry links, which are regionally focused.
The vice-chancellors claimed being able to join and extend expertise in these areas would enable improved, more tailored options for students, industry and community development in regional Victoria.
This will be explored in detail and be a critical part of being able to develop a successful transition plan should the proposition proceed.
Professor Byrne said that if the proposition moved forward to implementation Monash University would continue to be involved at Gippsland throughout the transition phase and beyond.
“While the exact contours of our ongoing involvement would be determined following consultation with stakeholders, Monash will continue to be active in Gippsland through the teach-out of existing Monash courses, the continuing presence of the medical school, which will remain part of Monash University, and through Monash retaining an active research presence on the campus,” Professor Byrne said.
The proposition will require formal approval by both State and Federal Governments and Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency.
State Minister for Higher Education and Skills Peter Hall said the proposition would improve the higher education options available in regional areas across the state.
“This proposition would make the expanded university a key provider of higher education in Victoria’s regional areas,” Mr Hall said.
Mr Hall said the proposition offered further reassurance about the future of the university campus in Gippsland and for regional higher education provision in general.
“Monash University has made a significant contribution to the Gippsland region through its university campus over the past 20 years and the University of Ballarat will build on that foundation, bringing its special expertise in regional higher education provision,” Mr Hall said.