Monash University says it will close its Berwick campus in Melbourne’s outer south-east unless it can partner with another university on the site.
The university said it would stop teaching at Berwick by the end of 2018 after a deal with Victoria University (VU) to use the campus fell through.
Monash University’s Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor Leon Piterman said negotiations with VU to use the site had gone on for some time.
“With students with lower ATARs achieving entry into VU, they would potentially meet the needs of the region better than what Monash might,” he told 774 ABC Melbourne.
“Unfortunately after some deliberation, VU has decided not to come to Berwick.”
Professor Piterman said the Berwick campus was not meeting the demand of students in the region.
He said there were only three faculties on the campus — business, education, nursing — and enrolments were low.
“The campus itself is small, it currently only has 1,600 students, it doesn’t have a diverse nature of degrees,” he said.
“Many students are going elsewhere, they’re travelling to other universities, including many of them travelling to Monash Clayton and Caulfield campuses where there are a greater number of degree offerings which provide them with better vocational opportunities.
“Our offering [in Berwick] is very narrow and we haven’t been able to grow that offering in the region.”
Mr Piterman said Monash had 67,000 students overall, with almost 30,000 at Clayton and more than 20,000 at Caulfield and 3,800 students at its peninsular campus.
Monash still interested in partnering with other universities on site
He said Monash was still interested in another university coming to the campus. He said the university would need the approval of both state and federal governments to pull out of the site.
“We’re still very, very keen to have another uni have a presence on this campus to meet the needs of this region and the students and their families,” he said.
City of Casey Mayor Sam Aziz said the decision was a “kick in the guts” to the region.
Mr Aziz said the area had 500,000 residents and was growing at a rate of 13,000 per year.
“To actually take a major player like Monash University from there is absolutely nonsensical,” he said.
“We’ll be writing to both governments in the course of this week making it very clear that the City of Casey is absolutely opposed to this proceeding any further.”
The Andrews Government said it had written to Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham to help keep the campus open.
“We have offered Monash any assistance needed to continue education at the Berwick campus or until arrangements can be made for another suitable provider,” Minister for Training and Skills Steve Herbert said in a statement.