MORE higher education options will be available in Wyndham as Ballarat University prepares to launch a locally based bachelor degree and Deakin University considers plans for expansion.
The news raises hope for shorter commutes to class and greater competition in the higher education sector after decades of dominance by Victoria University.
Ballarat University is set to sign an agreement with Wyndham Community and Education Centre to offer a bachelor of teaching at one of the centre’s 14 premises by the start of next year.
University spokesman Matthew Freeman said a memorandum of understanding would be finalised on May 3. The three-year degree is expected to cater for more than 100 Wyndham residents enrolled in certificate III and school-based vocational courses each year.
Wyndham Community and Education Centre chief executive Jenny Barrera was confident the course would be met with an “excellent take-up”.
“Students often travel somewhere else as there aren’t a lot of university options in Wyndham, apart from at VU,” she said.
“Many adults who come to us have left school early and are re-engaging with education, so applying to a university or big institution can be daunting.
“This way, as long as they do well in their diploma, a position in the bachelor degree will just be an extension to that.”
Deakin has confirmed it is also “investigating” establishing a presence in Wyndham to cater for significant population growth.
“This work is at a very early stage and no decisions have yet been made,” spokesman Andrew Birks said.
Advocacy group LeadWest has welcomed the prospect of partnerships between universities and local education providers.
“We need to increase education opportunities in Melbourne’s west at all levels,” business manager Craig Rowley said.
“The relative size of manufacturing will decrease and other sectors in our economy will grow.
“We need people with those skills when the new jobs open up.”
Mr Rowley said more choices and competition “will help lift everyone’s game”.
The council said it had been liaising with Ballarat and Deakin universities and would welcome a broader offering of higher education in Wyndham.