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Monday, 26 February 2018
Page: 1982

Ms KEAY (Braddon) (17:31): The member for Gilmore had a load of contradictions in that speech. It was actually quite extraordinary. The regional campus in my electorate, the Cradle Coast Campus of the University of Tasmania, is under threat by the government and their continuing cuts to higher education. In fact, in Tasmania, the University of Tasmania will lose $51.3 million. The campus in my electorate is subsidised by the rest of the university because it is a small campus and it doesn't have the ability to fund itself in total. I'm really pleased that the pro-vice-chancellors of the university, past and present, and the chancellor are very much committed to the University of Tasmania Cradle Coast Campus, because they understand the important role that universities play in regional Australia. They have an active presence in providing pathways to a tertiary education that otherwise would not be available. In my electorate, having that local presence with the UTAS Cradle Coast Campus is absolutely vital when you consider the disproportionate number of people engaged in higher education. The Torrens University social health atlases of Australia state that, in Braddon, school leaver participation in higher education is lower than the Tasmanian average and the Australian average. More needs to be done to get more people into higher education, and I'm heartened by the commitment of the university to the Cradle Coast Campus.

The Cradle Coast Campus offers full degrees as well as associate degrees. It offers a range of opportunities for course and research based postgraduate study based at the campus and directly related to local industries, including PhDs in agricultural science through the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture and regional development through the Institute for Regional Development. I have to say that the new associate degree program is a model that all universities, whether in the urban setting or in regional Australia, really should get behind. It has created that collaboration between industry, TAFE and the university sector, and brought in a course where people who would not normally have attended university can start studying there.

What we have at the University of Tasmania is a university college. It's now entering its second year of operation after a very successful first year in 2017, with a range of new associate degrees and specialisations rolling out this year. The two-year industry focused associate degrees are focused on offerings relevant to Northern and north-west Tasmania and are attracting a cohort of students that otherwise would not simply have considered higher education. Seventy-three per cent of 2017 associate degree admissions had no study background and were admitted to the courses on the basis of their motivation and enthusiasm to forge new pathways for themselves.

I went to the first-year graduation of the associate degrees last year and met a wonderful young lady who had obtained a traineeship and a trade in cooking. She was a chef and she didn't want to be that anymore. She thought she'd go into horticulture. The business that hired her saw her potential. She didn't think that she could ever go to university and get a degree, but, thanks to the vision that her employer saw in her, they put her through one of the agricultural business associate degrees. They've invested in her. Someone who would never have gone to university now has a pathway to a career in horticulture with skills and training behind her. It was so inspiring to hear her story and many others through the university degree.

What we see now with the associate degrees is that it's important to welcome these people onto campuses. It's essential that we have a welcoming campus environment for people to see that they can also attain higher education. That's why the redevelopment of the northern campus in Launceston and the north-west campus in Burnie is so important. What's even more exciting is the industry collaboration between the university and, of course, TAFE with these associate degrees. This program is really bringing together what industry needs from graduates. Unfortunately, and quite sadly, it seems that this is all under threat by this government if they continue to cut further. The University of Tasmania is fortunate that it doesn't have any other competition locally. However, we could see that campus close. It has transformed the north-west region. It has transformed the city of Burnie. It's actually creating more job opportunities for the people in the region to earn a higher wage. It's creating more entrepreneurs. Everything that the coalition government bangs on about day after day, that is what this campus is doing. Sadly, it's under threat by this government, and they need to stop.