State money for uni master plan

September 23, 2021 BY

Transformation: Federation University Ballarat are planning for a new skills and innovation precinct at the School of Mines campus. Photo: ALISTAIR FINLAY

FEDERATION University Ballarat has received a State Government grant to help plan for the education institution’s multimillion-dollar downtown transformation project.

The $2.25 million will go towards developing a master plan for a new skills and innovation precinct at the School of Mines campus as part of the Ballarat University Town Project.

Vice-chancellor Professor Duncan Bentley said the precinct would add to the prestigious mining school’s long history “to build what will be an even richer seam of knowledge, skills and jobs for regional Australia.”

“As society transforms, as Ballarat transforms, we’re seeing the skills and knowledge which are needed as a pipeline for all those industries which are coming into Ballarat, many are seeking to establish headquarters here, others are establishing precincts here,” he said.

“With a university town which is supported by the Government driving the regional economic skills and growth, we’ll be able to provide the pipeline of jobs and experience which is going to be absolutely vital for Ballarat.”

Set to be included in the master plan are upgrades to infrastructure at the Lydiard Street campus aimed at connecting it to the wider CBD and give the university the ability to offer new programs.

“[Those programs] are going through a reimagination at the moment, because what we’ve got to do is to work with industry, employers and Government to work out what the skills and job needs of the future are and invest in programs, co-created, which will deliver the pipeline of skills needed,” Professor Bentley said.

“We’ve just recently launched the bachelor of cognitive enterprise with IBM which is designed to give them the skills pipeline for the jobs which are coming up and developing in the IT sector.”

The School of Mines in 1910. Photo: SUPPLIED

The remainder of the $6.11 million in planning costs for the redevelopment will be covered by the university and an in-kind contribution from IBM which will pay 11 PhD students to intern as part of the process.

About 50 flow on jobs are expected to be created from the planning, which will take place over the next year.

A sustainability plan will also be developed alongside the master plan, which could include incorporating technologies that help the university achieve net zero emissions by 2030.

Member for Wendouree, Juliana Addison, said Ballarat had a strong school sector but she wanted to see more students pursuing higher education locally.

“Whilst we have great universities across Victoria, Federation University is a great university right on our doorstep,” she said.

Ms Addison said the University Town Project would complement other works in the city, including the $45 million upgrades to the Ballarat train station precinct and the $100 million GovHub.

“Having the site in the CBD where we know that we’re building a brand-new bus hub and transfer station at Ballarat train station, we’re really putting all of the pieces of the puzzle together incredibly well,” she said.

“[It’s] really important that we’re bringing all the pieces together to revitalise and transform central Ballarat.”

A portion of the State Government funding will also cover works at the Ararat jobs and technology precinct to improve public access and install high speed internet, connecting that site to virtual reality and artificial intelligence technology based at the mining school campus.

Thank you for supporting local journalism!