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Working in partnership

Recent months have seen a welcome flurry of visits from state and federal politicians as we have announced together a series of important projects for UTAS and Tasmania.

Most recently, the Premier joined me at the Theatre Royal together with arts industry representatives to announce a State contribution of $15.2 million towards the proposed Academy of Creative Industries and Performing Arts (ACIPA). This ambitious project draws together our strong creative community across the island, celebrates Tasmania’s proud history as a centre for culture and creativity, profiles us internationally through the construction of an iconic building and brings the vitality of student life into our cities.

It was a positive moment for Tasmania – showing the Government and the University aligned with their vision for the state. The fate of the ACIPA project now rests with the Australian Government and its evaluation under the Education Infrastructure Fund.

Our relationships with our representatives run deep. In Open to Talent we acknowledge as the only university on the island an opportunity, a responsibility, to play a major part in shaping our state’s future - its economic viability and prosperity, its cultural and intellectual life and its environmental sustainability. We recognise at the same time that the benefits of partnership must be balanced with the authority and authenticity that accompanies independence.

This spirit is embodied in a new three-year partnership agreement with the state government which identifies priorities shared between state and university including increased tertiary participation, the establishment of internationally significant areas of research endeavour and enrichment of our state through international education.

The benefits of such alignment are convincing. Clarity around the potential for UTAS research to benefit Tasmania underpins recent strong support from federal and state representatives: more than $3 million in national funding for the SenseT broadband project, $2.5 million matched by substantial industry contribution to upgrade and expand facilities for aquaculture, $2.5 million matched by industry to establish a National Centre for Future Forestry Industries, transfer of the former Princes Wharf 2 site to UTAS to provide a $45 million home for the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, and $90 million to construct the Medical Science 1 and 2 buildings within the revived Domain Precinct in Hobart’s CBD.

Expansion of our capacity to deliver education to Tasmanians and others has been facilitated by transfer of the Domain site and (beautiful) refurbishment of the Electrical Engineering Building to house Nursing and Midwifery students, provision of purpose-built teaching space at the Launceston General Hospital, financial support for construction of student residences at all three campuses, and a generous contribution to make possible the ACIPA project.

We have now agreed the creation of Tasmania’s first international education strategy. We want to increase the number of international students choosing to study here and also the duration of their study and the level of their satisfaction with Tasmania as a study destination. We see enrichment of Tasmania financially, culturally and intellectually as a result.

To this end I have accepted an invitation from the Premier to join her on a trade mission to China and Vietnam next month, where we can draw the eyes of Asia to our accomplishments and ambitions. This sort of connection, cooperation and alignment of strategy can only bring good results.

Peter Rathjen

Published on: 19 Aug 2012 9:57am