Since Deakin University announced it was reviewing the operations of its Warrnambool campus in March, my community has united for one common purpose: to retain tertiary education in the region. Earlier this month Deakin University announced it has a formal offer for the Ballarat-based Federation University to take over course offerings at the campus.
This development is encouraging. Federation University has a strong track record in developing higher education in regional areas, and I believe the Warrnambool campus would do well under its leadership. I also believe that there is overwhelming support for Federation University in the community and that it would be welcomed into the region with open arms. While no decision has yet been made, both universities are on the record saying their discussions have been productive and are ongoing.
A new community committee has been formed, with representatives from the education sector, local business and industry as well as local government. The main desire is to see the continuation of higher education in the region and to support the future of the campus. I back the group 100 per cent and congratulate it on taking a proactive approach.
I believe it is absolutely vital a university campus remains in Warrnambool servicing the entire western district and across into south-eastern South Australia. Our young people and those who may be looking to find a new career through mature-age study deserve to be able to study close to home. For many the costs associated with moving to Melbourne will be too great, so their university dreams will never come to fruition. I implore both Deakin and Federation universities to continue their discussions and develop a solution which will ensure South-West Coast students have access to higher education close to home.