The proposal involves Ballarat taking over the campus, with Monash retaining a presence through its medical school. Monash will “ teach-out” its existing courses and retain an active research presence on the campus.
The new arrangements would see 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”, according to the universities.
New courses for Gippsland that could be introduced by Ballarat include engineering, graphic design and multimedia, human movement and sports science, early childhood, metallurgy and health science.
Conversely the Ballarat and Wimmera campuses of the expanded university could see new courses in human resource management, criminal justice and criminology, bioscience, geomechanics, geohydrology and midwifery.
The unversities say that the proposal would enable the Gippsland campus “to pursue greater flexibility in entry requirements and 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”.
They also say that continued development of close and effective links with the regional TAFEs will be an important part of the exercise but that the Gippsland campus would continue as a dedicated higher education campus.
With both Ballarat and Churchill having considerable research expertise and industry links which are regionally focused, according to the universities the proposal would enable improved, more tailored options for students, industry and community development in regional Victoria.
Vice-chancellors David Battersby (Ballarat) and Ed Byrne (Monash) describe the proposal as
…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.
The proposition will require formal approval by both the state and Commonwealth governments and TEQSA if it is to proceed. The universities acknowledge that “approval will only be sought following completion of due diligence work by both universities and consultations with staff, students and key stakeholders.”
The target date for any new model to take effect is 1 Jan 2014, although the universities that ill depend on all necessary processes being completed in time.
The Victorian minister for higher education and skills, Peter Hall has offered in-principle support for the proposition, saying he thought it could “benefit students across the state, giving them access to a wider range of courses and to support services that are tailored to the needs of regional students.”
Churchill has an equivalent fulltime student load (EFTSL) of around 2500 HE students and about 350 staff.