SCU, Lismore studies super-uni proposal
In announcing the move yesterday, SCU Vice-Chancellor Paul Clark said the aim was to create something brand new out of existing facilities, with SCU and Bathurst-based Charles Sturt initially exploring the idea through a Federally-funded feasibility study.
It was anticipated a third university, located elsewhere in regional Australia, would join forces at some point to create Australia's first regional Commonwealth University.
A new name will be chosen for the facility with no connection to either SCU or Charles Sturt University.
Professor Clark said the push for change came about as a result of discussions within the two higher education facilities on how to build on their already excellent long-distance education network.
Of the 15,000 SCU students, 5000 are involved in distance education programs.
“We asked ourselves, 'how can we sustain and grow regional higher education',” Prof Clark said.
By uniting institutions educators would be able to tap into economies of scale, and there was the likelihood of funding for new initiatives.
“Lismore would be a fine location for a medical school, for instance,” said Prof Clark, who noted that Charles Sturt provided courses in pharmacology, dentistry, nursing and veterinary science – courses that could be accessed by Lismore students under the new university.
Prof Clark said he expected the feasibility study to be complete within six months and 'if all goes well' to have SCU students studying at the new university by early 2010.
“In the meantime we want students and staff to carry on as they do,” he said. “Much of this work will be done off-line and won't interfere with what is happening now. We've already worked with Charles Sturt for quite a while, so they were the logical partner in this project. It will strengthen what we do and will mean a whole lot of new things for Lismore.”
Lismore Teachers College was founded in 1971, and became the Northern Rivers College of Advanced Education in 1973.
In July, 1989, it became a network member of the University of New England.
In 1994 it became a stand-alone institution as Southern Cross University.