A PROPOSED restructure of La Trobe University's education and humanities programs could lead to further job cuts at the Bendigo campus.
But the university says it's committed to the regional city, with plans to make Bendigo its hub for engineering and visual art degrees.
La Trobe on Wednesday released its change programs plan and regional campus plan for staff consultation.
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The programs plan proposed the reduction of five ongoing roles across the Bundoora and Bendigo campuses in the School of Education.
The change in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences would address subjects and course structure.
The plan noted there could be further voluntary redundancies if consultation showed there was a need to reduce staff.
It was also proposed that from 2022, outdoor education subjects in Bendigo would be reduced from 27 to 10.
La Trobe Vice-Chancellor John Dewar AO said the proposed changes were subject to consultation.
"We have been redesigning the outdoor education degree for some time," Professor Dewar said. "It's not just about falling enrolments. The degree structure was due to be reviewed.
"We think this will improve student employment outcomes and deepen links to industry. It will also be a more efficient delivery model."
Professor Dewar said as part of the proposed plan for the Bendigo campus, the regional city would become the hub of the university's undergraduate engineering programs.
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"We will stop teaching that in Melbourne and we will focus it all in Bendigo," he said. "I think that is fantastic that we can offer the undergraduate degree in Bendigo where there is a big and thriving industry.
"It adds to a long list of degrees we only offer in Bendigo, like dentistry, oral health, pharmacy, and planning."
Under the regional campus plan proposal, there would also be a new visual arts degree only delivered at the Bendigo campus from 2022.
Professor Dewar said the changes reflected the university's commitment to regional education.
"What people can expect to see as a university is that focus on face-to-face delivery in courses where there is the biggest student demand," he said.
"Areas like health and education where our graduates are the backbone of regional Victorian industries. That's not going to change."
Professor Dewar said the university wanted to increase regional students' participation in higher education. He said part of that approach would be the continued connection with the Bendigo Kangan Institute.
"We have always had a great relationship with them," Professor Dewar said. "We want to create a clear pathway for those who want to start at TAFE and then come to university.
"We think this is one of the most effective ways to increase participation in regional areas. Students who may not be confident in completing a university degree may be more comfortable starting at TAFE.
"If there is an opportunity to go on to a degree, they are more likely to do that."
Professor Dewar said there would also be a renewed focus on international students, despite the challenges highlighted during the coronavirus pandemic.
"As a university we will have to be much more thoughtful about how we approach international student recruitment," he said. "It would be madness not to take into account what happened this year.
"But we do expect that the opportunity to recruit international students will return very quickly once borders reopen.
"We have a huge demand already. There is the potential to have those students in Bendigo. International students will bring a real economic benefit to the city as well as to the university."
Staff consultation on the changes program for the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, along with the regional campus plan, will close on November 25.
The School of Education staff consultation period will close on November 26.
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