Million-dollar spending a nod to UNE’s future

THE University of New England has announced an infrastructure spend of nearly $50 million next year, which will include its new Tamworth “future campus”, medical school and residential college upgrades.

The UNE Council yesterday approved its 2013 budget, with chancellor Richard Torbay crediting executives for placing the university in such a strong financial position – one of the healthiest it has ever experienced.

Mr Torbay said the UNE council and vice-chancellor, Professor Jim Barber, had steered the university through bold and difficult reforms in the last year.

“The 2013 budget is a product of their dedication and courage,” he said.

Mr Torbay said a part of UNE’s strategic plan, released last year, was to grow volume and margin in distance education so they could reinvest profits back on-campus. 

“Our improved financial situation over the last 12 months has allowed UNE to begin to fulfil this strategic direction and this will continue next year with $49.5 million allocated to capital expenditure,” he said.

The completion of the Tablelands Medical School, the Western Sydney Future Campus, further work on improving the residential college fire compliance and significant information technology investment are among the major projects scheduled for funding in 2013.

Work will also get under way on the Integrated Agricultural Education Project (recently granted $29 million from the federal government), UNE’s Future Campus in Tamworth and on additional staff positions.

The capital expenditure announcement came as UNE officially opened its new $4.6 million pharmacy facility.

The state-of-the-art facility is equipped with dispensing and compounding areas, laboratories, teaching spaces and tutorial areas and will be of huge benefit to new bachelor of pharmacy degree students.

Mr Torbay said they now had a facility equipped with the latest technology, including cameras enabling external students to be part of the learning experience, and join in classes remotely. 

Vice-chancellor Professor Barber said they welcomed the federal government’s support of the project and UNE’s vision to be the first university in Australia to offer the undergraduate pharmacy degree both internally and via distance education.

The first cohort of UNE students will graduate from the degree next year.

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