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University adds extra 500 students

 DEAKIN University’s Geelong campuses  have  offered places to 500 more students  than last year  as part of their plan to grow  and cater to local  employment shortages.

This year 3061 early and first-round offers were  sent out  compared to 2554 in 2011. The 20 per cent  growth makes  Deakin the fastest growing university  in Victoria. Acting  Vice-Chancellor John Catford  said it was likely those extra  students would be new  to the area and would provide a  boost to the whole  community.

“There are very direct affects of adding more  graduates to  the workforce, but those courses also  need staff who will  contribute to the community and  buy goods and services  and build the confidence of  Geelong as a fast-moving,  contemporary and  progressive city,” he said.

Professor Catford said new courses of Optometry,  Exercise   Science, Zoology, Visual Arts and an  Associate Degree in  Arts and Science had been  partly behind the growth, as  well as the Federal Government’s removal of course limits.

Unfortunately, limits on the number of students in medicine are still enforced, and the program which was built for 180 students, is capped at 130 despite more than 1200 applicants.

“It’s disappointing but we’re absolutely building our health programs and we’ve seen strong growth in health science and biomedical science,” Prof Catford said. “We’re responding to regional workforce shortages and building the capacity of the region.

“There still quite a few courses in the pipeline (for next year) and we’re looking at ways we can revitalize programs. We couldn’t grow in Geelong but now with the policy changes we can grow where we want to.” The new Optometry and Exercise Science courses will be based at the new $60 million building at Waurn Ponds.

Prof Catford was also buoyed by the high number of mature-age enrolments and was positive about more growth at a further two enrolment periods this year. Geelong Chamber of Commerce executive officer Bernadette Uzelac said it was too hard to put a dollar figure on the economic benefit of the larger student population, but said it would be “significant”.

“There will be a lot of positive spin offs, it’s great news, and it shows Geelong is firmly on the map as a centre of excellence,” she said.

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