$6 million TAFE boost, Minister launches turns first sod on project to consolidate campuses

Work has begun on a $6 million building upgrade to consolidate TAFE Western’s two Mudgee campuses.   

Minister for Regional Development, Skills and Small Business John Barilaro joined Dubbo MP Troy Grant and TAFE Western Institute director Kate Baxter in turning the first sod at the Ulan Road college on Monday.

The start-of-the-art Learning Resource Hub will include interactive learning areas that can be modified to suit learning needs, administration, counselling support, a library space and computer labs.  

Ms Baxter said the hub will strengthen and improve training and education options offered by TAFE, with hundreds of students to benefit.

“This project will consolidate Mudgee’s two TAFE sites into one site that will enable students to experience innovative learning resources and facilities,” she said.

“Once completed, the Mudgee Learning Resource Hub will enable TAFE Western to better target the needs of our students, offering vital student services such as administration, skills development and career counselling.”

Mr Barilaro said the learning hub was a move away from traditional classroom settings. 

“Students are telling us clearly they want training delivered in a very different way, they want a comfortable environment, they want the ability to do it using the latest technology … online, workplace training and of course a physical campus,” he said.

“You’ll see some consolidation around some of the TAFE assets and buildings in the future but that is to be reinvested back into TAFE to make sure we deliver state-of-the-art fit for purpose facilities that are adaptable as needs change. 

“That’s the difference between this new facility and what you’ve seen previously we’re you got all these blocked classrooms you’ll see a very open design that will be adaptable in the future for whatever industry demand there is.”

Responding to criticisms over higher student fees and reduced teaching staff, Mr Barilaro said TAFE fees have increased but that was no different to the previous government. 

“We took TAFE fees and the cost of delivery to IPART and IPART came back with a recommended range of fees, we actually went lower than what IPART said and they are genuinely in line with what’s happened previously,” Mr Barilaro said. 

Mr Grant said the NSW Liberal and Nationals Government has increased 200,000 fee free places under Smart and Skilled program. 

He said investing in local communities provided more job opportunities for local students, and a more skilled workforce for local businesses.

“Local students and staff will be the beneficiaries from this modern learning environment that will help build the skilled workforce of the future,” Mr Grant said.

Earlier this year the project was awarded a 5 Star Green Star Education design v1 Certified Rating by the Green Building Council of Australia for excellence in environmentally sustainable design. 

The building includes energy efficient lighting, heating/cooling systems, appliances and building materials, non-toxic and recycled construction products, optimisation of natural diffused light, sustainable transport options and modern water harvesting systems.

Work on the Mudgee Learning Resource Hub is expected to be completed by June, 2016.

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