A PLAN to merge Monash University's Gippsland campus with the University of Ballarat would benefit regional access to tertiary education.That's according to Higher Education Minister Peter Hall, who announced the proposal today and suggested the changes could be completed by next year.
"This proposition would make the expanded university a key provider of higher education in Victoria's regional areas," Mr Hall said.
An expert panel developed the Gippsland Tertiary Education Plan, which recommended the move and suggested it could allow an expanded range of courses to be offered to students.
Engineering, sports science, graphic design and health science courses could begin at the Gippsland campus, while the University of Ballarat could also offer new courses at its current locations including criminology, geomachines and midwifery.
Mr Hall said consultation with staff and students would need to be undertaken by both universities and state and federal government approval would also be required for the move to go ahead.
Monash University Vice-Chancellor Professor Ed Byrne said the plan would strengthen the delivery of regional tertiary education.
"It is my belief that by bringing together the expertise of both institutions, the expanded university would be able to grow into one of Australia's best regional higher education providers," Prof Byrne said.
He affirmed that Monash would remain involved in the future operations of the Gippsland campus.
"While the exact contours of our ongoing involvement would be determined following consultation with stakeholders, Monash will continue to be active in Gippsland through the teach-out of existing Monash courses, the continuing presence of the medical school, which will remain part of Monash University, and through Monash retaining an active research presence on the campus," Prof Byrne said.
University of Ballarat Vice-Chancellor Professor David Battersby said joining forces would improve on-campus and distance education for those in regional areas.
Mr Hall pledged his in-principle support for the change.
"Monash University has made a significant contribution to the Gippsland region through its university campus over the past 20 years and the University of Ballarat will build on that foundation, bringing its special expertise in regional higher education provision," he said.
"I see this as an exciting opportunity to improve the delivery of higher education to regional Victorians and I encourage everyone with an interest in the outcome to engage with the process positively to ensure the best outcome."