New Bendigo-based science degree aims to stem brain drain

Expertise: Biomedical science professor Helen Irving says she has joined La Trobe Bendigo at an “exciting time in biological science”. Picture: DARREN HOWE
Expertise: Biomedical science professor Helen Irving says she has joined La Trobe Bendigo at an “exciting time in biological science”. Picture: DARREN HOWE

La Trobe University hopes its new Bendigo-based Biomedical Science degree will help stem the brain drain away from the region, allowing more students to complete their qualifications and find work locally.

Head of the School of Pharmacy and Science, Mike Angove, said the new bachelor’s degree would help reverse a trend of students heading down the Calder to complete their postgraduate studies and enter the workforce.

“It’s all about trying to retain expertise in the regions and it’s been very difficult historically to keep well-trained people in regional areas,” he said.

“These sorts of professionals are required in all sorts of different industries, not just medical areas but all sorts of areas of science, whether it’s the food industry or even environmental areas, we do need these graduates in science and unfortunately most graduates these days head to the big cities.”

Biomedical science professor Helen Irving, who started at La Trobe Bendigo this week and will lead some of the new research, said she joined the faculty at an “exciting time in biological science”.

“One of the things I’m quite excited about being able to be here is to bring some of the new advances that are happening across science and technology,” she said.

“A lot of things are being implemented to allow us to address questions in new ways that we haven’t been able to do before so it’s going to be really exciting to try and do that and also to interact with the regional health services in the area.”

And with the Bendigo Tech School nearing completion Dr Angove said students would now have a pathway from primary school right through to post-graduate study and work.

“One of the difficult things in trying to get kids interested in science is giving them a good science background, trying to increase their interest in science areas through junior school and into high school,” he said.

“So one of the ideas behind [the tech school] is really to invigorate science learning in the region to try and encourage students to then go on to further studies in science.”