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By Steph McNicol

THE collaboration between GOTAFE and La Trobe University was celebrated at the official opening of the new Wallan campus for tertiary learning and re-training on Wednesday.

Minister for Training, Skills and Higher Education Gayle Tierney attended the launch and said it was a ‘thrill to be celebrating the opening of a new campus’.

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“We have here a fantastic embodiment of TAFE with its partnership with La Trobe,” Ms Tierney said.

“It also has partnerships with the schools, the sporting communities, and of course the local businesses along the shopping strip as well – there are even placements organised with the businesses.

“We need to have graduates that are local, and can walk into jobs that are local, and people aren’t forced to go out of town.

“They can stay in their communities, stay with their families, stay with their friendship groups, so that we can continue to knit a community that goes from this generation to the next.”

GOTAFE chief executive Travis Heeney said he was proud to be officially launching the new campus in partnership with the State Government.

“We’ve already had 60 students enrolled here, so the demand has been really positive,” Mr Heeney said.

“People were talking about no longer having to get on public transport or driving for an hour and a half to study elsewhere, and actually having that now in their local community is something they were so pleased with.

“We’re really proud that in a short amount of time we’ve been able to deliver, in partnership with the State Government, a new campus in the centre of Wallan.”

GOTAFE board chair Diana Taylor said the TAFE was looking forward to working with the community in educating young people and re-educating people who wanted to learn something new.

“Young people haven’t been staying in education as long as we’ve wanted them to and we needed there to be a place for them to do that, because as we know, travel, transport and cost are barriers and inhibitors to people being able to re-educate themselves,” Ms Taylor said.

La Trobe University vice-chancellor John Dewar said the new campus was about the university working together with GOTAFE to educate the community.

“I’m not quite sure my prepared speech fully conveys the importance of what we are celebrating today – collaboration between a TAFE and a university to serve the needs of a rapidly growing regional community,” Mr Dewar said.

“This is a very big deal. TAFEs and universities have not been brilliant at working with each other in the past, but for the last three or four years, La Trobe has taken the very strong view that if we are to properly serve the needs of regional communities, that we have no choice but to work in close partnership with our TAFE colleagues.

“This is not about university being better than TAFE or TAFE being better than university, but two complementary institutions working together to meet the needs of regional communities.”

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