THE University of New England is moving full-steam ahead with its plans to establish a bigger presence in the Tamworth region.
The Leader can reveal the Armidale-based education giant has renewed its tenancy at Fitzroy Street’s Peel House for the next ten years, and is in the process of signing on partnerships with two major Tamworth entities.
New Pro Vice Chancellor Mingan Choct said talks with Tamworth Regional Council and other education stakeholders would continue during a visit to the region on Friday.
“We are certainly working with Tamworth Council on a number of fronts,” he said.
“We’ve also signed a proposal with the Northern Inland Academy of Sport (NAS) for our exercise science students to go there for placements.
“We have also sent a number of people down to the Tamworth Conservatorium of Music and we had a really good meeting with them.
“We also resigned the lease to Peel House and will be renting that for another 10-years – it is all fantastic and really exciting.”
Mr Choct said the university was also in talks with the local agriculture industry and options with other tertiary education providers were also on the table.
However, he said, mid-year economic and fiscal outlook changes meant caps were placed on Commonwealth-funded university places until 2019 with a “significant impact” on the university’s bottom line and future plans predicted.
“Face-to-face teaching does require a lot of effort with accreditation, compliance and space,” he said.
“We are certainly looking at other opportunities in other areas that are going to be a goer, but the business model has changed.
“There are some cases where we’ll have to go back to the drawing board.
“An initial estimate is a direct loss of $11 million of two years to our bottom line.”
Tamworth Mayor Col Murray said he was pleased with the progress made between council and the university.
“I think both parties are very keen to improve the dialogue and it certainly looks like a bright future. It’s a great opportunity for Tamworth to raise its higher education profile in the city.
“The city has suffered from a lack of this in the past so it is great to have such a highly regarded partner as UNE willing to engage.”