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A distinctly regional contribution

This past month has seen two important milestones for the University of Tasmania in the context of our association with regional areas of the State.

The first is the appointment of the inaugural Pro Vice-Chancellor (Regional Development), Professor Janelle Allison, who will have responsibility for high level leadership at the Launceston and Cradle Coast campuses of UTAS. The establishment of this new position signals the University's commitment to our regional campuses as equal partners, distinct but not in isolation from, the Hobart campus.

It also reflects the University’s belief that opportunities across the regions rest with the relationships UTAS can forge with those regions – through government, business, industry and community - to develop investment and confidence and to open the pathways to tertiary education to many who have not had that chance before.

Appointment of the PVC (Regional Development) will create the right environment for conversations about opportunities for growth and development in the regions. The University seeks to build a shared understanding of the role that we can play in the community, to focus our activities on innovative research and teaching programs that draw on regional strengths, and to engender greater awareness of education as an agent of social and economic advancement. In turn this allows the skills and knowhow of the regions to be harnessed and the University to be responsive and sensitive to barriers to change, both perceived and real.

The potential benefits of campus-specific research and teaching objectives came to the fore at a jointly-hosted event between the Launceston Chamber of Commerce and UTAS last month; there was widespread agreement that aligning the entrepreneurial business strengths of the Northern region with the strengths of University would improve our joint capacity to deliver social and economic returns.

In celebrating the appointment of Professor Allison, who will be responsible for embedding that strategy across our northern campuses, it is also timely to reflect on current success at the Cradle Coast campus. During the Regional Campus Directors Conference, hosted by Cradle Coast in the presence of Federal Minister for Education Chris Evans, we were able to announce that, for the first time, 1000 students were enrolled at the campus.

The achievement of this milestone is a coming of age for Cradle Coast. North West Tasmania has historically had the lowest tertiary participation rates in Australia; the success of our regional campus helps us to change these historical education patterns and to provide opportunity for the workforce in the region.

There are emerging opportunities for our Launceston and Cradle Coast campuses that contribute to and build upon the successes of UTAS as a whole. Ensuring the strength of the parts respects the diversity and regional nature of the Tasmania community and allows UTAS to plan a sustainable and prosperous future.

Peter Rathjen

Published on: 19 Aug 2011 9:57am