A $29 MILLION boost to the University of New England will establish new agricultural education facilities and upgrade the university’s Tamworth Regional Study Centre.
The funding windfall, which forms part of a $46 million project, was announced yesterday in Tamworth by federal Tertiary Education Minister Senator Chris Evans and will help the university offer the most cutting-edge agricultural courses in the country. The funds will be used to build a three-storey agricultural education building at the Armidale campus and to upgrade the Tamworth Regional Study Centre in Peel House on Fitzroy St.
The Armidale building will be fitted out with specialised teaching laboratories, sound-proofing and temperature- controlled work rooms, amultiple-discipline zoology teaching museum and a learning resource centre.
An animal husbandry facility will also be built on- site at UNE to teach anatomy, pathology, animal handling, surgery and breeding.
The Tamworth facility upgrade will include a name change to the Tamworth Futures Campus and will include an expansion of interactive tutorials and e-teaching to students studying agriculture subjects through the university. The university’s Sustainable Manageable and Accessible Rural Technologies farm, which brings on-farm practical work into the teaching classroom, will also be further developed.
Senator Evans said the funding for the Integrated Agricultural Education Project would be provided through the Education Investment Fund, which was borne out of independent member for New England Tony Windsor and member for Lyne Rob Oakeshott’s deal with Prime Minister Julia Gillard to form aminority government.
Yesterday’s announcement pleased many who said it was well and truly time for an investment in agriculture.
UNE acting vice-chancellor Professor Annabelle Duncan said she was absolutely delighted with the outcome of the funding application.
“This investment comes at a time when food security is more important than ever,” she said.
“UNE has made the decision to go against the trends of other universities and make a large investment in agricultural sciences and business courses because we recognise there is a skills shortage.
“We are already recognised as a leader in this area. The funding will help us to offer the most cutting-edge agricultural courses in thecountry.”
Mr Windsor, who studied agriculture at UNE in the 1970s, said the project wouldbe the result of acollaborative effort.
“It’s a partnership with the CSIRO, Tamworth Regional Council, the University of New England and plays on the strengths of UNE,” he said.
In total the project will cost about$46 million and it is understood the other funds will be contributed by the partners.
The next step in the project, according to MsDuncan, will be to firm up the building plans and then seek tenders.
“We are hoping it won’t take too long to get the ball rolling,” she said.
Future agribusiness student George Lennon told The Leader the investment in agriculture courses wasexciting.
He will begin a bachelor of agribusiness in trimester two next year.
“My family owns and runs an organic wagyu farm at Dunedoo,” he said.
“When I’ve finished my studies I would like to return to the farm.
“It’s great for someone who is planning to study at UNE and waiting to go that there is going to be a real investment in agricultural courses, that will be a huge benefit forstudents.”
Senator Evans said it was hoped the investment would open up access to university to an unprecedentednumber of students.
UNE chancellor Richard Torbay welcomed the announcement and congratulated the staff responsible for the submission, saying it was a real win for agriculture and the New England region.
“This grant allows UNE to continue to be innovative in its approach to rural sciences, and offer students a world-class education in agriculture and animalsciences,” Mr Torbay said.
“The project is also expected to create more than 50 jobs across the construction and teaching sectors, which is great for the region.”
Tamworth Regional Council deputy mayor Russell Webb said the investment was fantastic news for the region.
“Until now there’s been a strong focus on mining in the region,” he said.
“This kind of investment in agriculture is a wonderful thing.”
funding windfall: Pictured after the announcement yesterday were, from left, acting UNE vice-chancellor Annabelle Duncan, federal minister for tertiary education Chris Evans and member for New England Tony Windsor.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.