Muresk future in doubt

30 Jul, 2009 03:34 AM

CURTIN University's iconic Muresk campus could face closure, with the university currently undertaking a consultation process with staff and community stakeholders over the future of the Northam facility.

From 2010 the agribusiness course will be taught by the Curtin Business School and agricultural science courses will remain within the Faculty of Science and Engineering.

A decision on the fate of the Muresk campus will be decided in 8-12 weeks by Curtin, however since the university does not own the land, its long term future rests with the State Government and in particular the education minister.

The university blamed falling student numbers and the facility running at a significant economic loss for the "consultation process", which resulted in the courses being relocated to the Bentley campus.

There are 95 students studying at Muresk compared to 380 studying similar courses at Curtin's Bentley campus.

However industry insiders believe moving agricultural courses to the Bentley campus has been on Curtin's agenda for a long time and that the university would like to see a similar outcome for the WA School of Mines in Kalgoorlie.

Curtin deputy vice chancellor Jane den Hollander said there needed to be a significant increase in demand for courses offered at the Muresk campus or funding in order to keep the facility viable for teaching agriculture.

"Student demand for agricultural courses has been falling nationally for some time and the review highlighted the need to respond to the current industry and student demands," Prof den Hollander said.

"This means the way agricultural science is managed within Curtin will need to change to better meet the needs of science and business students."

Prof den Hollander said the university was acting to protect the disciple of agriculture and the bottom line was that the facility was running at a significant deficit.

Gidgegannup farmer Don Robertson was deputy director and acting director at Muresk from 1975-2001 and said the university's primary concern had always been to simply minimise costs at Muresk.

"It has had a similar attitude to the School of Mines at Kalgoorlie," Dr Robertson said.

"The best outcome for agricultural education in WA would be a body independent of all university administrations, which should determine how to allocate and manage the limited resources available."


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