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.