Learning centres welcomed

GIPPSLAND will witness the establishment of seven technological learning centres in a bid to increase higher education participation rates in the region.

This was announced by State Skills Minister Peter Hall on Tuesday, as part of the government’s response to the Gippsland Tertiary Education Plan.

The GTEP commissioned by the government, made 10 recommendations including the formation of a Gippsland Tertiary Education Council to “build greater collaboration between (education providers) and with the industry”. Mr Hall welcomed the recommendations and appointed 11 Gippsland representatives to form this council, to be chaired by Dr Peter Veenker, chairperson of the East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority.

“We have many good providers in the region, but what we don’t have is good coordination of all of that delivery into the area,” Mr Hall said.

“Therefore if we can coordinate that better and identify needs and look for ways to address those needs, that’s going to be a significant role the GTEC will play.”

“They are going to collectively point out to governments whether its state of federal, what the needs of the region are… and what they believe the government should be doing to address that.”

As to the establishment of the technology enabled learning centres, while Mr Hall did not comment on the financial estimates of the project, he said the government was “fully committed to doing it and we will do it”.

He said the government’s funding commitment would be “dependant on the quality of technology available”, adding funding would be “appropriate” for the establishment of these centres.

“What I’m hopeful for is that we will have the delivery of programs into this region that have potentially never been delivered before,” he said.

Areas currently identified for the establishment of these centres are Traralgon, Churchill, Warragul, Bairnsdale, Sale, Leongatha and Wonthaggi. The establishment of these centres was welcomed by Monash University Gippsland which has previously pushed for the initiative.

Monash University Gippsland Pro Vice-Chancellor Prof Helen Bartlett said the centres would provide “blended learning approaches” while addressing education needs in the region. She said the provision of the GTEC also signalled “long-term” education investment into the region, adding the government’s acceptance of the report was not “an overnight solution”.