News & Stories

University CBD move vital for education future

Vice-Chancellor, Rufus Black, explains why providing a good education to as many Tasmanians as possible is at the heart of everything we do as a university.


Over the last 20 years, nearly half of all new jobs in Australia required a bachelor’s degree or above. This trend is set to continue as technology changes how we live and work – in the future most jobs will require some form of post-school education.

Yet unfortunately, only 21 per cent of people living in Hobart have a university degree. When it comes to most areas outside of inner Hobart, this drops to below 10 per cent.

As Tasmania’s only University, we have an obligation to do everything we can to improve these numbers, and to ensure as many young Tasmanians get access to the best opportunities in life as possible.

And that’s what the move of the University of Tasmania’s Hobart campus into the city is all about – improving access to education, for all.

We all know and love the existing site in Sandy Bay, but the fact is it is not fit-for-purpose, requires significant rebuilding and is difficult to access for most people outside of inner-city Hobart. 

The facts are stark. The further you go from Sandy Bay, the lower the education outcomes. For example, currently South Hobart/Fern Tree has the highest proportion of the Tasmanian population with a bachelor’s degree, at 60 per cent.

In contrast, in Bridgewater/Gagebrook it is just three percent.

By moving the campus into the CBD we will dramatically improve access to higher education, for all.

Not only will we immediately eliminate the dreaded “double bus” for most students, we will also dramatically increase physical access to major and growing communities including Brighton, Bridgewater, New Norfolk and Sorell, which will now fall within a 60 minute public transport travel window.

Nor can we ignore the less tangible. We mightn’t like it, but for many Tasmanians outside the Hobart municipality, the term “Sandy Bay campus” is of itself a major barrier to attending higher education.

Today, access to education is also about access to jobs. The majority of students need to work while they study. The city provides by far the best access to jobs.

We shouldn’t forget the city is also where so many of students want to be. Just this year two thirds of students seeking university accommodation wanted to live in the city not Sandy Bay.

Access that changes lives is also about quality. The new, purpose-built city campus will provide all students with access to a significantly improved student experience compared to the current campus at Sandy Bay, which is simply not fit-for-purpose anymore and far behind the standard of mainland universities.

The CBD move will also revive and stimulate small business in Hobart’s CBD as a result of 1,500 staff and 8,500 students using the new campus buildings, with the staff alone adding over $15 million annually to the local business sector.

And it will help green the city, by including indoor and outdoor green spaces within our buildings, dramatically reducing the embodied carbon in our buildings and by increasing the use of alternative transport methods such as public transport, ferries and bikes, while also providing sufficient parking.

As a university, we are committed to paying our fair share. As an educational institution we don’t have to pay rates, but we think we have a moral obligation to make sure we are paying our way.

That’s why we’ve agreed to voluntarily pay $3.8 million to the City of Hobart over ten years in lieu of rates. The City of Hobart can use these funds in any way they see fit.

On top of paying rates, we’ll be investing significantly in common infrastructure in the city, for example with an around $4 million investment into stormwater upgrades.

The move will also allow the existing Sandy Bay campus to be repurposed into a mixed-use village for all ages, providing 2,700 new homes to help address Tasmania’s housing challenge, with up to 10 per cent affordable housing, and contemporary aged-care facilities.

Over time, as these new homes come on-line, they will significantly increase the rates base of Hobart Council, further benefitting all Hobart residents.

In addition, other key precincts will be created including sporting, education, allied health, attractive retail and hospitality.

The green spaces and sporting facilities at the Sandy Bay Road end of the existing campus will be retained and enhanced, and the original 1960s-era buildings will be repurposed.

I would like to assure Sandy Bay residents that we do understand the depth of feeling and value that you place on the existing campus site, and to let you know that we are very keen to engage with community members – students, families, staff, Hobart residents and business – about how we can work together to achieve the best outcomes for everyone.

Ultimately, the city move is about improving access to education for young Tasmania. That is our key mission, and that is what the CBD move will achieve.

Find out more and get in touch about the southern campus we're creating in the city-centre of nipaluna/Hobart.