21/06/2022 - 11:11

Murdoch blames COVID for derailing $250m campus plan

21/06/2022 - 11:11

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Murdoch University has blamed the COVID pandemic for derailing its $250 million inner city campus proposal, which had been predicated on an increase in international students.

Murdoch blames COVID for derailing $250m campus plan
Sue Ellery revealed Murdoch had informed the state government of its intention to withdraw from the proposal. Photo: Attila Csaszar

Murdoch University has blamed the COVID pandemic for derailing its $250 million inner city campus proposal, which had been predicated on an increase in international students.

The university had planned to build a new multi-vertical campus in Perth’s CBD, complete with a digital academy and an eSPorts hub, by 2023.

The project, which formed part of the $1.7 billion Perth City Deal, a partnership between all three tiers of government and the universities, was touted as a means of bolstering economic activity and drawing thousands of people to the city centre.

But during a budget estimates hearing yesterday, Education Minister Sue Ellery revealed Murdoch had informed the state government of its intention to withdraw from the proposal due to the impact of COVID-19.

“Given the impact of COVID-19, though, Murdoch has reconsidered its proposal and Murdoch advised the state government earlier this year that it could no longer proceed,” she said.

“That is disappointing to the government.”

A spokesperson for Murdoch University told Business News the university had chosen to prioritise its newest infrastructure project, the construction of a new four-storey building at its South Street Campus.

“While the CBD campus had merit, the impact of COVID on the University’s finances required us to review our priorities and it was necessary to advise the Government at the earliest opportunity that the University would be unable to progress the CBD campus,” the spokesperson said.

“We are looking forward to our new academic building opening early next year, enabling us to welcome students to a world-class learning environment, delivering a technology rich educational experience.”

It means the state government’s contribution to the Murdoch campus could be reallocated to Edith Cowan University’s inner city campus, which has faced significant cost escalation pressures and is now set to cost $853 million.

Ms Ellery took a thinly veiled swipe at the City of Perth, criticising it for taking credit for the project expected to invigorate Perth’s city centre.

“It is the state and federal government and ECU funding this game-changing project,” she said.

“There are others, though. The City of Perth has claimed credit, despite not putting in anything for the project or contributing.

“It is the state and commonwealth governments doing the heavy lifting.”

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