BALLARAT may have lost its own dedicated university, but regional Victoria is gaining its first.
Minister for Higher Education and Skills Peter Hall officially launched Federation University Australia, to be known as FedUni, at Parliament House in Melbourne yesterday.
“One hundred and twelve years ago a federation of Australia took place just up the road from here,” Mr Hall said at the event.
“Now here at Parliament House we’re seeing FedUni formed.”
The University of Ballarat, including all its nine entities, will amalgamate with Monash University’s Gippsland campus to form the new university from January 1, 2014.
Mr Hall said FedUni would be the first in Victoria dedicated entirely to regional areas.
“This is a great day especially for regional Victoria because it’s Victoria’s first totally regionally-focused university,” Mr Hall said.
Mr Hall wore a FedUni jumper with the new logo featuring the Eureka flag to a function following the launch.
He wished students attending all the best.
“Students here today could be some of the first people to graduate with a FedUni degree,” he said.
“Good luck for your future and all the best with your careers.”
At the launch, students from Ballarat and Gippsland brought pieces of a large puzzle of the map of Victoria.
Mr Hall, University of Ballarat vice-chancellor David Battersby and Monash University Gippsland campus pro vice-chancellor Robin Pollard placed the final pieces in the puzzle.
Professor Battersby said the university, like the puzzle, would link the west and east of Victoria.
“I think the launch is a reflection of the fact that education is always evolving – it’s never stationary and never stays the same.” Mr Hall said.
He expected FedUni to grow in years to come.
“They already have an affiliation with TAFEs around regional Victoria so there is potential for development there,” he said.
Mr Hall said he could see the university helping with education rates.
“Last year, 58 per cent of year 12 metropolitan students attended university, in regional areas it was 38 per cent,” he said.
“Although there is a higher deferral rate in university areas, there is still a long way to go to bridge the gap and FedUni will help to do that.”
UB psychology student Ellen Sabo dyed her mohawk blue for the launch.
“I thought I would celebrate with the university by colouring my mohawk,” she said.
She also had FedUni shaved into the sides of her head.
Ms Sabo said although it had taken her a while to warm up to the change, she thought it would be a great step for the university.
“In the current education climate which has been tough, it’s great to see our university growing and expanding,” she said.
Moving down from Queensland to attend UB, she said she was welcomed with open arms.
“The nature of the uni, being inclusive, nurturing and regional will stay with all these changes – it’ll just be doing it on a bigger scale,” she said.
“It took me a while to get used to the fact that UB was changing but now that I can see how it’s changing I think it’s great.”
FedUni is expected to generate more than $1 billion annually.