A pilot program to improve life for residential students at Monash University’s Gippsland campus will start this month.
The 335 students who live at the Churchill campus are now eligible to receive a $100 Cabcharge gift card to help address long-standing issues with public transport outside business hours and at weekends.
Monash Gippsland’s Pro Vice Chancellor, Professor Robin Pollard, said the University recognised students living on campus were constrained in undertaking activities off campus if they did not have a car. He said the initiative aimed to fill some of the gaps in the public transport services and provide a quick and safe journey.
“Transport is often raised as an issue for many residential students – particularly our international students – and this program aims to not only address that, but also ensure life on campus is a more enjoyable experience,” Professor Pollard said.
“In the past other schemes had been trialed but we think this pilot program is an investment in our residential students. It enhances their independence by providing them with the maximum amount of flexibility and enables them to use it when and where they choose.”
Amy Cameron, a Churchill-based third-year primary education student and Residential Adviser, said transport was often a major bugbear for those living on campus.
“Getting to-and-from Churchill has often been difficult for residential students if they don’t own a car –especially out-of-hours – and this program will be well received,” Ms Cameron said.
“For various reasons public transport doesn’t work for everyone as it can be inflexible and students don’t always feel safe traveling by themselves in the evening. This pilot program has the potential to really help out with some of those issues.”
Diona Chu, president of the International Students Association at Monash Gippsland, said the scheme would assist many students who lived at Churchill, particularly with access to and from local train stations.
“The ISA appreciates that Monash is acknowledging that transportation is a major problem in the area and welcomes this quickly implemented additional transport service,” Ms Chu said.
“This will definitely be a good way to ease the financial burden of traveling to-and-from the campus for students. For international students this is especially so, because many do not have cars and do not receive public transport student travel concessions and perhaps this scheme will encourage retention of international students at the Gippsland campus.
“We are concerned about the sustainability of this scheme and how long will Monash be committed to give out Cabcharge vouchers. Are there any better ongoing alternatives?”
Mr Alan Scarlett, campus manager, said the cards were valid for 12 months and the pilot program would be reviewed later in the year.
He said the campus would continue to investigate other transport options.