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Wednesday, 19 June 1996
Page: 1804


Senator ELLISON(1.38 p.m.) —Madam Acting Deputy President, on 13 June this year I attended the opening of the Law School at the University of Notre Dame in Fremantle, Western Australia. Notre Dame is Australia's first Catholic university. It commenced teaching in January 1992. Notre Dame has two campuses, one in Fremantle and the other in Broome, Western Australia. One of the features of the university is that its academic year differs from that of other Australian universities because of its relationship with the University of Notre Dame in the United States. The academic year commences in early February, with its first semester lasting until May. This is followed by a winter term, which runs from June until mid-August, with the second semester beginning in August and ending in December.

The university was set up by an act of parliament in Western Australia in 1989 and is owned, controlled and operated by a board of trustees and a board of governors. The university has a close relationship with the University of Notre Dame in Indiana in the United States, and it has drawn much of its founding inspiration and philosophy from that university. It is worth while to note, whilst we are looking at the question of funding for higher education institutions, that Notre Dame is not funded by the Commonwealth. In fact, that university is a living example of what can be done by the private sector in eduction. The fee in relation to Notre Dame is $690 per unit for full-time Australian students and $1,220 per unit for full-time overseas students. Needless to say, the service of overseas students is a growing area, and the export of education generally is a growing area for Australia.

At present there are 1,000 students enrolled, and law enrolments will not be opened until next year. As I understand it, the university, in contrast to Bond University, is more economical in its costs and overheads in relation to the cost per student per annum. Having visited the Notre Dame campus, I can say that much has been done to economise on expenditure without any sacrifice in quality. This is perhaps something that public universities could well take heed of.

In closing, the university aims to be faithful to the intellectual and spiritual ideals which have been the foundation of the great Catholic universities of the world. Like them, Notre Dame Australia seeks to be a leader in scholarship and education. Basically, there are four main objectives of the university: first, to provide, through teaching, pastoral care and personal development, for the total education of its students; second, to support an academic community noted for its excellence; third, to support the role and work of the church in Australia; and, fourth, to make a special contribution to the economic and social development of Australia.

At present, the university has four colleges—namely, arts and sciences, business, education, and theology. The two campuses contribute greatly to the local communities in Fremantle and Broome. I believe Notre Dame, as a university, will contribute greatly to the future of young Australians. I look forward to the intake of law students at the law school in 1997 and I congratulate all the staff associated with its development, especially Geraldine Byrne, the law school secretary, and Mary Eileen Gaunt, the registrar. I believe that the opening of this law school at Notre Dame will be one of the steps along the way in the success story that will be Notre Dame Australia.