Bendigo TAFE merger gets funding

BENDIGO TAFE will receive $64 million from the state government to support its merger with Melbourne-based Kangan Institute.

Premier Denis Napthine will announce the funding in Bendigo on Friday, which the government says will lead to 55 additional courses being offered in Bendigo.

As part of the funding, $25 million will be spent to upgrade the McRae Street campus once a business case has been completed. 

A National Centre of Excellence for Health and Human Services will be created at the campus with a focus on the health industry.

The centre will be created in partnership with La Trobe University to make the most of employment opportunities at the new hospital.

Higher Education and Skills Minister Nick Wakeling said all campuses would remain open under the same branding.

Dr Napthine said the new courses in Bendigo would focus on health, engineering and management.

“This is an exciting announcement for students in Bendigo and the north-west with a whole range of new education options for people to choose from,” he said.

The new health centre would give people an incentive to move to Bendigo, Dr Napthine said.

“This a fantastic outcome which will attract more people to Bendigo to study, with great sustainable employment opportunities at the nearby hospital and associated health, aged care and disability services,” he said.

The government expects a further $35 million to be invested by the private sector and the merged institute. 

The Bendigo Kangan Institute will have its head office in Bendigo, with board meetings to alternate between Bendigo and Melbourne.

The opposition has been critical of the merger, with Member for Bendigo East Jacinta Allan labelling it a takeover.

She last week told The Bendigo Advertiser the government had pulled money from the sector.

“This is not two TAFEs coming together from a position of strength,” she said.

“This is coming from a position of desperation, being forced to look at options, forced to look at ways they can save even more money.”

Member for Bendigo West Maree Edwards said there had been a lack of transparency.

“All of these discussions have been done behind closed doors without community consultation and without any knowledge of how it’s really going to impact on staff, on students and on our campuses,” she said last week.

Comment will be sought from ALP members on Friday. 

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