Necessary change for a stronger future

Lin Crase Professor Lin Crase

La Trobe University’s Albury-Wodonga campus is set to grow by more than 20 per cent over the next five years  – bolstering the expected annual economic benefit to the local economy from $50m to  more than $60m.
The University plans to boost student numbers by 200, from an existing 900 to 1,100. We also intend to increase, broaden and make more relevant our course offerings, contrary to the alarmist and incorrect statements that appeared in yesterday’s paper.
The new strategy is in response to a discussion paper that sets the future direction for the University until 2017.  The announcement of structural changes to the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences is related to that expansion.
The aim of the changes is to support the University’s ambition to retain a strong regional presence while maintaining its ranking amongst the top 500 universities in the world.
The changes in Humanities are about the long-term sustainable delivery of arts education into regional Victoria and the need to reform offerings and provide greater interdisciplinary education to meet future needs of students and the wider community.
The Faculty will move from a three major model to a single integrated major model, which will be known as the Humanities and Social Sciences major.
These changes will be implemented over the next three years for future students – and no existing student will be disadvantaged.  All students will be able to complete the courses they have begun within their normal time-frame.
Local students have been consulted about these changes with the original consultation phase extended to almost six weeks.  We believe the model we now have is significantly better because of the interest and enthusiasm of students.
Disciplines from the three major model will be available under the new single major model as minors so students can have better access to gain teaching qualifications and also continue on to further studies.
An exciting element of the changes to the Arts course is that it opens up the options for students to access more subjects from other popular courses on the campus, like Psychology, Science and Business Management.
The new interdisciplinary major will also provide greater opportunities for collaborative teaching within and across Faculties, while giving students access to important national research projects operated from the campus.
 The new opportunities have emerged from an analysis of the educational and professional needs of the community and were detailed in the campus response to the new La Trobe strategy.
Many of the new courses proposed for the campus will be tied directly to the existing strengths of the University. And we will continue to target growth in discipline areas where there is changing student demand and community need.
For example, the Albury-Wodonga campus hosts important national research groups that focus on pressing regional issues like water management, rural ageing and health.
We will be using our strong local presence, current research and teaching strengths in tandem with investments in new delivery technologies. The new Humanities and Social Sciences model will form part of that expansion.

Lin Crase is Professor of Applied Economics and Director of the Centre for Water Policy and Management at La Trobe University.