Charles Sturt University Vice-Chancellor Professor Cliff Blake challenged the Government to show further support to regional universities during today's announcement that Dubbo company Rawson Constructions has won the tender to build stage one of the new CSU Dubbo Campus.
With pressure on the Federal Government to make regional development a centrepiece of its May Budget, Professor Blake said the increasing demand for higher education in the region was putting excessive pressure on universities like CSU and needed to be high on the Government's agenda for funding.
"While we appreciate the funding we have received for the Dubbo Campus, it is still a small gesture when compared with the massive expenditures that have occurred in the development of universities in metropolitan areas," he said this morning in announcing the winning tender for the first stage of the new campus' construction.
To date the Dubbo Campus can expect to receive $4 million in Federal Government funding but requires significant additional funding from the University's depleted resources.
"If the Commonwealth has a serious commitment to decentralise and accelerate development in regional areas, major centres of employment and opportunity like CSU require additional capital funding," Professor Blake said.
"Universities like CSU have demonstrated they are a platform for regional development," he stressed. "This University has built up a considerable infrastructure - both in technology, especially the new communication technologies, and highly trained personnel. It is this infrastructure that underpins the successful delivery of decentralisation policies."
Professor Blake also spoke of the need for extra student places for the new Dubbo Campus.
"We are being challenged by unprecedented student demand at all of our campuses and at present the University is simply unable to relocate places to meet urgent need for additional student places in Dubbo.
"When there is a call for a rural medical workforce, accountants, teachers and information technologists in regional Australia, and Charles Sturt University has demonstrated its ability to meet that demand, we have to have the opportunity, the resources and additional student places to follow through with this development," he said.
"If the Federal Government is serious about its relationship with regional Australia and wants to make true its political promises, now is the time to act."