Agriculture at forefront of $29 million grant to UNE

Published 22 November 2012

The University of New England’s reputation as a leader in agriculture has been recognised with a $29 million grant from the Commonwealth Government.

The Minister for Tertiary Education, Senator Chris Evans, announced the grant as part of the Education Investment Fund for UNE’s Integrated Agricultural Education Project while at UNE’s Tamworth Regional Study Centre today.

The $46 million project will deliver better teaching facilities and greater collaboration across the teaching and research sectors.

UNE’s Chancellor, Richard Torbay, welcomed the announcement and congratulated the staff members 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 animal sciences,” 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.”

The Acting Vice-Chancellor, Professor Annabelle Duncan, said UNE was delighted to have received the grant and thanked the Federal Government for supporting UNE’s goal to be a leader in agriculture.

“The Integrated Agricultural Education Project includes new and upgraded buildings with collaborative teaching and learning spaces on UNE’s Armidale Campus, an adjacent SMART Farm educational facility, and a significant upgrade to UNE’s Tamworth Regional Study Centre,” Professor Duncan said.

“The majority of the grant,” she explained, “will be spent on a new three-storey Agricultural Education Building that will include specialised teaching laboratories, a large lecture theatre, tutorial rooms, temperature-controlled work rooms, a multi-discipline Zoology Teaching Museum and a Learning Resource Centre.

“Contrary to sector trends, UNE has been increasing its enrolments in agriculture and animal sciences, and we expect that trend to continue. This project allows UNE to accommodate that growth in state-of-the-art facilities and continue to supply skilled graduates to agribusiness nationally.”

The project also includes upgrading Tamworth’s Regional Study Centre to a UNE Future Campus, meaning improved interactive tutorial spaces and cutting-edge technology for online students.

“This project aligns with UNE’s Strategic Plan which is to grow volume and margin in Distance Education and to invest the surpluses in the on-campus experience,” Professor Duncan said. “UNE is growing strongly online due to our transition to trimesters, our courseware redevelopment, and our reinvigorated marketing strategy. So we are now turning our attention to campus life and investing heavily in infrastructure.

“Our improved financial situation over the past 12 months has allowed UNE to begin to fulfil this strategic direction. Our ambitious college redevelopment project, which is due to get under way next year, is one of the first projects UNE is undertaking to improve its on-campus student experience.”

“The grant announced today will further assist our on-campus efforts, and we again thank the Commonwealth for their contribution,” Professor Duncan said. “We look forward to working with our partners CSIRO, TAFE NSW New England Institute, the NSW Government and Tamworth Regional Council in delivering this new and exciting project.”

Clicking on the photograph of Professor Annabelle Duncan and Senator Chris Evans displayed above reveals a photograph of Professor Duncan and Senator Evans with the Federal Member for New England, Tony Windsor.