Monash urged to engage with council

LATROBE City Council has urged Monash University’s top administrators to come to the table to discuss its proposed alliance with the University of Ballarat.

Speaking to The Express, Mayor Sandy Kam said she was disappointed Vice Chancellor of Monash Professor Ed Byrne had not yet engaged with council on the same level as the University of Ballarat.

“We have asked… Monash (Clayton) haven’t been able to provide us with any date,” Cr Kam said ahead of the Traralgon leg of the community forum seeking feedback on the proposed merger to create an “expanded, regionally-focused university” tomorrow.

“Considering where we stand on the matter, we would think the Vice Chancellor would be keen to meet with us.”

Cr Kam said council had been trying to arrange for a meeting with Professor Byrne over the last few weeks, adding council had formally condemned Monash’s decision earlier this month.

“Councillors feel very strongly that a meeting with Professor Byrne is imperative,” she said.

“We have had initial discussions with (Monash University’s Gippsland campus) Pro-Vice Chancellor Professor Robin Pollard, but council resolved we need to speak to the Vice Chancellor; we have questions we would like answers to.”

Meanwhile, Cr Kam acknowledged she had met University of Ballarat’s Vice Chancellor Professor David Battersby last week.

“Professor Battersby is more than willing to have further consultations with the community,” she said.

Cr Kam said so far, community feedback to the proposed university alliance had been mixed.

She said she was looking forward to the community consultation session tomorrow and urged people to participate; however, she questioned the timing of the session.

“If there isn’t a (big turnout), we would need to query the need to have another session at a more appropriate time,” Cr Kam said.

The mayor said council was focused on ensuring tertiary education facilities were available to the community.

Questions put to Monash University in Clayton about its engagement with the local council were unanswered by time of going to print.

Meanwhile, in a separate statement, Gippsland Tertiary Education Council chair Peter Veenker supported the universities’ proposal, saying it “may be the initiative to give Gippslanders greater opportunities to access higher education”.

“The GTEC believes the proposal will result in the creation of a new and exciting tertiary learning environment that will be a unique and innovative model for education throughout Australia,” Dr Veenker said.

The community forum about the future of tertiary education on Gippsland will be held at the GippsTAFE Academy in Traralgon tomorrow from noon to 2pm.