30/10/2019 - 05:00

Murdoch, UWA planning CBD campuses

30/10/2019 - 05:00

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Murdoch University and the University of Western Australia have confirmed they are in the early stages of planning new campuses in Perth’s CBD, while Murdoch is also partnering with Spacecubed to launch a teaching and events space on St Georges Terrace.

A university campus in the centre of Perth is considered to be a key component of efforts to revitalise the CBD. Photo: Gabriel Oliveira

Murdoch University and the University of Western Australia have confirmed they are in the early stages of planning new campuses in Perth’s CBD, while Murdoch is also partnering with Spacecubed to launch a teaching and events space on St Georges Terrace.

Murdoch vice chancellor Eeva Leinonen told Business News that the university was in discussions with various stakeholders around establishing a new CBD campus, with the teaching and events space, to be located at Golden Square, to help it strengthen relationships with developers and landlords.

Professor Leinonen said discussions remained in a preliminary phase, with no decision yet made on where the university would like to be located in the CBD, whether it would seek a development partner for a new building, or if a refurbished existing building would be suitable for its needs.

“We are very flexible and open about that,” Professor Leinonen said.

“We have a lot of experience in working in city-based campuses and different types of buildings can work. 

“Sometimes they are purpose-built and sometimes they are refurbishments of existing buildings. 

“It really is about having facilities that are fit for the types of teaching activities that you want to undertake. That’s the sort of flexibility we have in mind.”

Murdoch’s teaching and events facility will take up the ninth floor of the 15,000sqm office building owned by Golden Group, located at 32 St Georges Terrace.

The space, which is a collaboration between the university and Murdoch graduate Brodie McCulloch's Spacecubed, will allow postgraduate students, industry, alumni and businesses to develop closer connections, Professor Leinonen said.

Murdoch’s announcement follows federal Minister for Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure, Alan Tudge, refocusing attention on a Perth City Deal in collaboration with the state government this week, with education singled out as a potential catalyst for population and economic growth.

Potential university campuses in Perth CBD also fit with a recent state government policy shift to attract more international students.

Over the weekend, Premier Mark McGowan announced in collaboration with federal Finance Minister Mathias Cormann that Perth had been reclassified as a regional city, allowing international students to apply to stay for an additional year as a postgraduate or at a workplace once they have completed their bachelor degrees. 

Several student accommodation facilities are also in the planning pipeline, following the opening this year of two purpose-built student accommodation projects on the outskirts of the city on Stirling Street.

“Students are a big part of any vibrancy in the city and our motivation is to be part of the city community,” Professor Leinonen told Business News

“We have a lot to offer as an educational institution, as all educational institutions have a lot to offer for the development of cities.

“Cities that we know around the world and in Australia that are very vibrant usually have a good student population as part of that vibrancy.”

A University of Western Australia spokesperson confirmed to Business News that the university was also seeking to develop a CBD campus.

“This is an exciting opportunity for the University to play a larger economic, cultural and community role in the life of our capital city and broaden collaboration with government, education and industry partners,” the spokesperson said.

“We will be engaging in detailed discussions with government, our students (past and present), staff and potential partners.”

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