South Australian universities gear up to offer their best
This story was published: July 29, 2014 2:34PM
UniSA City West concept images March 2014 - Great Hall Source: Supplied
SOUTH Australia does not need glitzy tourist attractions or millions of residents to help one of the most prospective sectors of the economy thrive.
What it needs is a community which is welcoming and supports the growth of an industry which delivers benefits on a number of levels.
That industry sector is education which has been expanding to tap into the international student market as well as enhance the domestic research and teaching capacity.
Formally launched last week, newcomer to the space Torrens University already has its sights set on a national footprint managed from Adelaide.
Also on the smaller but ambitious end of the scale, University College London aims to invest another £1 million on its Adelaide campus next year to grow student numbers and broaden its courses.
Then, the big three universities of Adelaide, Flinders and UniSA have all gone through a period of enormous capital investment over the past few years. And this building program is far from finished.
Flinders hasn’t completed the first building at the Tonsley precinct and is already evaluating tendering more.
The University of Adelaide has recently completed the photonics centre and other on-campus buildings and is on track to build alongside the SAHMRI in the health and medical precinct on the western end of North Tce.
UniSA will have its own building in that precinct and is currently engaged in the tendering process for its Great Hall project in the City West campus.
Clearly, this is creating opportunities for architects, engineers and construction.
Once built, there will be work for the academic and administrative staff. Then there’s a direct benefit to the SA community through the students who will be taught and advance their research. A population with a big pool of well-educated workers will make SA a much more attractive destination for investors.
Further, the networks of links into our trade partner countries will grow and blossom through the international students who read here.
Yet, while the fabric of the university campuses is thriving there is a gap in the community support for the sector.
With the exception of on-campus facilities such as Adelaide’s Hub, there are few obvious, welcoming spots in Adelaide for the international students. By and large it’s been left to the private sector to develop student accommodation and social gathering spots such as dessert bars and market food halls.
SA should do better than that. The size of the Adelaide is ideal to create an education crucible where students meet, share, learn and laugh together — and interact with the broader community.
If we can create the feeling of a university town in the same way major arts and sports festivals grip the city in a way that’s never possible in a big city, it will help Adelaide and SA become the destination of choice for study.