DEAKIN University’s Warrnambool campus may become another arm of Federation University after Deakin’s vice chancellor confirmed the two universities had been in talks over a potential takeover.
Deakin University vice-chancellor Jen den Hollander spoke to the staff at the Warrnambool campus on Friday morning, where she said the university was looking at “a range of options” to allow the campus to continue.
Speaking to The Standard in Warrnambool, Professor den Hollander confirmed Deakin had been in discussions with a number of education providers about taking over the campus, including Federation University
“I don’t want to rule anything in or out,” Professor den Hollander said. “What we are saying is there will be higher education in Warrnambool, but Deakin may not be providing it.”
The confirmation comes as the Warrnambool campus faces a continuing decline in enrollment numbers, down from 1342 students in 2011 to 872 forecast for this year.
Should the takeover go ahead it would be the second acquired campus for Federation University in three years, after the-then University of Ballarat seized control of Monash University’s Gippsland campus in 2013.
The Courier understands Deakin University made an offer to Federation University in late 2015 to gift the campus to the Ballarat-based university, in addition to a payment from Deakin.
The talks allegedly broke down after Deakin told Federation University they planned on retaining their marine biology course, which they hoped to run at one of their remaining campuses.
The course had allegedly been one of the campuses major draw cards for Federation University.
The Courier also understands the amount of funding offered by Deakin to Federation University to take control of the campus was deemed insufficient by Federation University. The talks had allegedly been taking place for the majority of 2015.
In a media release Professer den Hollander said “there is a growing gap between what Deakin offers...and the particular needs of the region’s students”.
Federation University confirmed the two universities had been in consultation, describing the talks as “informal”. A media release said “at the moment we are focused on our existing campuses in Ballarat, Gippsland and the Wimmera”.