Ballarat’s Federation University will be the home of the city’s new state-of-the-art “tech school” set to open its doors by the end of 2017.
The announcement comes on the eve of the state government’s highly anticipated budget.
Victorian Education Minister James Merlino announced Ballarat would be the site of one of only 10 tech schools which are opening across the state.
The tech hubs will offer supplementary classes for secondary students at government and non-government schools, and the curriculum would be set by schools, TAFEs and local industry.
Mr Merlino said the funding would allow for secondary school students to engage with robotics, coding, science, engineering and maths.
"This is not like the tech schools of the 1960s, 1970s and '80s,” he said. “This is about providing young people with the skills, experience, opportunity and technology of the future. We're talking about robotics, and advanced manufacturing, we're talking about coding."
Executive Director of Federation College Shirley Fraser said she was thrilled by the announcement expected to enhance the learning of more than 11,500 students across Ballarat.
The tech school will be based inside a refurbished building at the university’s the School of Mines Ballarat campus at Albert Street.
“It will benefit students from year seven to 12,” Ms Fraser said.
“The centre will be a high-tech school for all students to come to and the focus of learning there will be related to science, technology, engineering and maths.”
Ms Fraser said at the heart of the centre was a desire to open up employment opportunities for Ballarat’s next generation of workers which tied into the city’s emerging industries.
“It will really look at where the jobs of Ballarat’s future are heading,” Ms Fraser said.
“If you look at Ballarat, the manufacturing industry is growing as is the food industry with businesses like Mars booming so we look at all the new technologies being used by these companies.”
While some critics have dubbed the idea outdated, Ms Fraser said the initiative was about giving students of all abilities access to better resources and expertise to follow their dreams. Victorian Minister for Training and Skills Steve Herbert said the tech schools will allow students to get hands-on technical training while they continue their studies.
“Tech schools don’t replace a comprehensive education – they’re part of it,” Mr Herbert said. “These Tech Schools will become centres of excellence, bringing together TAFE, universities, industry and local businesses.”
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