Shepparton campus keeps regional promise
La Trobe University will continue to consult widely across regional Victoria to ensure obstacles facing regional students wishing to access higher education continue to be removed.
That’s the promise made by La Trobe’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Paul Johnson, upon the release of the University’s first annual Regional Community Report which outlines progress towards goals set out in the Regional Strategic Plan 2009 - 2012.
The report shows that the University is exceeding expectations just twelve months into a four-year strategy.
‘We set out to improve our engagement with communities, substantially increase participation in higher education in regional Victoria, and boost our regional research capacity,’ Professor Johnson said.
Key accomplishments over the past 12 months include securing funding for major infrastructure and research, a significant economic contribution to gross regional product and a 30% increase in student enrollments.
‘We can see in the Regional Community Report that we are keeping our regional promises and ticking many of these boxes.’
‘We will continue to tick those boxes,’ he said.
The next step on the University’s agenda is to work towards removing the barriers that make it difficult for regional Victorians to go to university by developing stronger links with secondary schools and the TAFE sector.
This will be done through partnerships with local industry and government, alongside campus-specific Regional Advisory Boards to assist the university refine its approach to servicing the diverse needs of each regional campus.
‘It means we are able develop courses that are relevant to local industries, which meet local workforce demands and community aspirations,’ said Professor Johnson.
Professor Hal Swerissen, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Regional) said the University has a strong future in the regions, both in education and in stimulating local economies.
La Trobe’s regional teaching campuses now employ more than 1,300 staff and host over 5,500 students, contributing in excess of $280 million to the Gross Regional Product of the communities in which it operates.
‘Our aim is to increase enrollments at our regional campuses by 20% and our regional research capacity by 50% by 2012, so this contribution to the gross figure will increase considerably,’ said Professor Swerissen.
‘We will remain dedicated to the development of vibrant and sustainable communities in Regional Victoria,’ he said.
Shepparton’s Executive Director, Liz Lavender said the Regional Community Report confirms the Campus is thriving.
'The people of Shepparton recognise that La Trobe provides a metropolitan- standard education right here. Students no longer have to move to Melbourne.
'Our enrollments have increased by 20%, we continue to have a strong relationship with local school principals and next year local students will have the opportunity to experience the new building first hand.'
Liz said the new $9 million dollar campus is set for completion in 2011 and is already generating community interest.
'The new campus will allow us to build upon our reputation for being an incubator for innovative teaching. We will be able to showcase our programs and provide space to test new ways of teaching. This points to a very strong future.'
Liz said that around 70% of La Trobe’s regional graduates will continue to live and work in country Victoria once they finish studying.
In November, an Economic Impact Report revealed the Shepparton campus contributes $12.5 million per year to the Gross Regional Product and supports 130 jobs in the local economy.
Alternative entry pathways are helping the University achieve its 20% target in enrolling students from low SES backgrounds.
'University is no longer about elitism and ivory white towers; it has real potential to help sustain regional communities,' she said.
Regional Community Report highlights: Shepparton campus
• The new Shepparton campus is under construction. It will comprise of a 2000 square-meter two storey building.
• Shepparton hosts more than 350 international students and offers undergraduate and postgraduate courses in arts, business, commerce, education and nursing.
• Shepparton is paving the way in the use of learning technologies which provide learning flexibility. The Graduate Diploma in Education (Middle Years) uses offline teaching to educate is students from all over Victoria and interstate.
• The Regional School of Business offers industry based subjects, providing ‘hands on’ experience to its students.
• Public lectures- such as the annual John Furphy Memorial Lecture- are continually popular, with many filled to standing room only.
• Industry Networking Evenings have highlighted the potential and significant mutual benefits of links between students, staff, industry and business.
For a short video of Vice-Chancellor Paul Johnson and Pro Vice-Chancellor (Regional) Hal Swerissen discussing the University's ambitions for the regional communities it serves, visit: