University bid fails

GOULBURN Mulwaree Mayor Geoff Kettle believes that Goulburn is still in a very strong position to have a university campus located in the city despite the failure of the University of Canberra (UCAN) in the first round of funding grants, announced late last week.

Edith Cowan University in Western Australia was the successful applicant in the first round but Cr Kettle said he is exceedingly pleased that UCAN has been invited to reapply.

“Without the money for the Structural Adjustment Fund, the reality is that we won’t be able to have a campus in Goulburn,” Cr Kettle said.

“Having said that, it is extremely encouraging that UCAN have been invited to reapply for that funding, and I am very confident that they can put together a very convincing application.”

Despite the mayor’s upbeat response, others have expressed concern at the outcome of the first round bid. President of the Goulburn Chamber of Commerce Rob Walker said on Friday he was “very disappointed” that the city had missed out on the first round of the Structural Adjustment Funding.

“Money’s very tight everywhere but money has been thrown around and wasted on anything except where it should be used - such as education,” Mr Walker said.

Mr Walker said the Chamber remained hopeful that the second round of funding would come through for the city. Member for Goulburn Pru Goward was more upbeat about last week’s announcement.

“Yes, we’re still in the hunt, only a very few got thru on the first round. We now have to wait until April,” Ms Goward said.

“But I have spoken to the university and they have advised me that the successful ones in first round did not have a capital funding component whereas UCAN’s does. We should all write letters to the Minister for Regional Development supporting this application.”

The failure of the first round bid follows a concerted effort by Council and related parties to interest UCAN in locating a campus in Goulburn. Last month Goulburn Mulwaree Council hosted a 35-person strong delegation from UCAN, who held a two-day retreat in the city and which was treated to a tour of Goulburn and its facilities. Vice-Chancellor Professor Stephen Parker thanked the bid’s supporters in the region.

“From the moment we suggested this idea, we have been overwhelmed by the support we have received from the local communities,” Professor Parker said.

“We always felt it was a strong bid, but to receive such positive community feedback lends a real energy to the proposal.”

The proposed campus would have capacity for 150 students, including 50 residential students, who would study a number of different subjects, including health, sciences and engineering. The bid, under the Commonwealth’s Structural Adjustment Fund, has potential to provide a major boost for the region with new campuses established in Cooma and Goulburn and a major upgrade to University’s field station at Jervis Bay.

The Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) has invited the University to reapply. The University is awaiting feedback from DEEWR on its original application.

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