Advancing tertiary education in Gippsland

IN a first for Gippsland, Federation University Australia and TAFE Gippsland have signed a landmark memorandum of understanding to advance and support tertiary education in the region.

Under the agreement, TAFE Gippsland students of nursing, community services, business, education, and conservation and land management will graduate with guaranteed credits for the relevant Federation University undergraduate degrees.

This means students could finish their university degree in two years instead of three, helping to address local workforce shortages in industries such as health and education.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Labour Force Survey shows employment in Gippsland has already grown by almost 5000 jobs in education and training, and by more than 3000 in health in the past five years.

The state government’s 2019 Jobs and Training Needs Report lists courses in early education, school age education and care, and nursing among a selection of courses that closely align to Gippsland’s industry and economic needs.

The agreement will come into effect next year and marks the first step in what will be a long partnership between TAFE Gippsland and Federation University regarding pathway development and the potential for joint program offerings.

TAFE Gippsland and Federation University have also established a scholarship program for 2020, providing 10 TAFE Gippsland graduates with a $1000 grant each to put towards studying a bachelor degree with Federation University.

Federation University deputy vice-chancellor Professor Andy Smith said the agreement would make higher education more accessible to the Gippsland community and help address skills shortages in the region, particularly in education and health.

“It means students will be able to finish their degree and join the workforce sooner,” he said.

TAFE Gippsland chief executive Grant Radford said the institute was passionate about giving people the opportunity to undertake quality and reliable vocational training.

“This MoU will be key to ensuring our TAFE students have a clear pathway to advance their studies,” he said.

Latrobe Regional Hospital education, training and research general manager Anita Raymond said LRH had been a strong supporter of regional TAFE and university undergraduate nursing and enrolled placements for many years.

“Our partnership with tertiary providers in the development of nursing graduates is vital to ensuring we’re able to continue providing safe, quality care,” she said.

“Nursing in a regional setting often comes with a unique set of challenges, so it’s terrific to welcome local graduates each year who are eager to work and live in Gippsland.

“This not only benefits our hospital, but adds to the vibrancy of our community.”