La Trobe’s new ‘Future Ready’ strategy

JD 28La Trobe University’s new ‘Future Ready’ five-year plan is a ‘perfect fit’ with the State Government’s proposed regional strategy to curb Melbourne's urban sprawl, Vice-Chancellor Professor John Dewar said today.

His comment follows a report in ‘The Sunday Age’ this weekend that Planning Minister Matthew Guy is signalling a new era of growth for Victoria’s regional cities.

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The newspaper, examining the boom in Bendigo, highlights the achievements of La Trobe’s 5,000-student campus.

Not only do about two-thirds of La Trobe Bendigo students end up working in the regions, helping local development, but the University’s courses and facilities are also starting to draw students all the way from Melbourne.

‘That’s something we intend to build on under our new strategy,’ said Professor Dewar speaking in Bendigo at the start of a week-long tour of La Trobe’s regional campus network to explain the new ‘Future Ready’ plan to local communities, staff and students.

He said the University intends to increase student numbers by more than 30 per cent  - to 33,000 over the next five years.

Almost a third of that growth - 1,800 students - will be in regional Victoria, and 6,000 students on the Melbourne campus.

The University will also significantly ramp up external engagement, consultation about locally relevant course design and community support in regional areas.

Commenting on La Trobe’s vision for Bendigo to become a ‘truly great University City’, Professor Dewar said:

‘There’s an assumption in Australia that great universities only exist in the great capital cities.
That’s a peculiarly Australian way of thinking.

‘If you look in the northern hemisphere, particularly, North America, some of the greatest universities in the American system are in the smallest of places. 

‘So there’s no correlation between the size of a city and the greatness or otherwise of its higher education institutions.

‘I think at Bendigo we’ve got perhaps the best opportunity of anywhere in Australia to break that Australian mould and to set about creating a really vibrant University in what is already a great regional city.’

As ‘The Sunday Age’ article shows, to some extent that’s already happening, Professor Dewar said.

‘We’ve done a great job, for example, in building up our Rural Health School which is headquartered in Bendigo, including the dentistry program.

‘We know that students come to Bendigo from all over Australia and the world just to study those disciplines. There’s no reason why we couldn’t do that in other areas as well.

‘So the proposition is really about not just continuing to grow the University’s scope and scale in Bendigo, it’s about creating programs there that students want to do so much that they are prepared to move from other parts of Australia and the world to come and do that.

‘We’ve proven that we can do it and I think we can do more of it.’

Read (and watch) more about ‘Future Ready 2013-2017’

Contact: Ernest Raetz, 041 226 1919 or Warrick Glynn 0423 846 513