The new health and medical education campus to be built in Port Macquarie will dramatically expand tertiary education opportunities for young people in the region and provide social, economic and health benefits for the entire community.
Consortium partners behind the initiative, the University of New South Wales, the University of Newcastle and North Coast TAFE, have welcomed the Federal Government’s decision to invest $20 million for the Mid-North Coast campus – the first of its kind in Australia.
The funding was announced this afternoon by Federal Independent Member for Lyne, Mr Rob Oakeshott.
The campus, to be completed by 2014, will provide tertiary education to more than 600 students, and improve the participation of Indigenous students and students from low socio-economic backgrounds. Significantly, students will able to complete their university degrees in a range of health and medical fields – including a medicine degree – without having to leave the region.
At present, the UNSW Rural Clinical School teaches four clinical years of a six-year medicine degree in Port Macquarie.
“We are delighted to be leading an initiative to create a complete health education facility to offer subjects and career paths that were not available in regional NSW until now,” said UNSW Acting Vice-Chancellor Professor Richard Henry.
“A regional medical school where students can complete an entire six-year course is an Australian first that will change the way medical education is delivered in this country, and we believe this will provide a model for the establishment of other multi‐partner educational facilities.”
The University of Newcastle will increase its Bachelor of Nursing places by 50 per cent to 115 and will introduce a Bachelor of Midwifery. The University also plans to introduce Bachelors programs in Radiation Therapy and Occupational Therapy.
“The University of Newcastle is absolutely delighted to be partnering with the Australian Government to meet the education aspirations and the workforce training needs of the Mid-North Coast region,” Vice-Chancellor, Professor Caroline McMillen, said.
“The University of Newcastle has a strong relationship with the local area network and we are committed to building on this relationship and working with a range of local partners to offer education that meet the workforce needs of the region.
“The number and scope of Newcastle’s allied health courses under the new initiative align with the region’s current and anticipated health care needs.”
The North Coast Institute of TAFE will provide programs to meet emerging private and public health needs and expand its places in the Diploma of Nursing and Certificate IV in Allied Health Assistance courses.
“North Coast TAFE welcomes this opportunity to work collaboratively with two of Australia’s leading universities to bring a suite of new medical and allied health programs to our region,” said North Coast TAFE Institute Director, Elizabeth McGregor.
“This facility will allow us to introduce a range of new higher level TAFE programs to train Allied Health, Dental, Pathology and Medical Practice Assistants to complement the degree programs and underpin the TAFE-to-university pathways that are a key feature of our joint work with universities”, said Ms McGregor.
Announcing the federal funding today, Mr Oakeshott said: “We are leading the nation in making the relationship between TAFE and university, as well as public and private health services, as seamless as possible. “
Another key element to the development, he said, was a multi‐disciplinary Rural Research Centre to focus on rural health and rural workforce issues to enhance knowledge and understanding of rural and Indigenous health issues.