Quick resolution for Muresk

26 Aug, 2013 02:00 AM
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THE future of Muresk still hangs in the balance as industry waits on the State Government to approve additional funding for the transitional period.

The agreement between CY O'Connor Institute (CYOC) and Charles Sturt University (CSU) to run a Bachelor of Agricultural Business in 2014 won't be officially signed until the funding has been announced.

CYOC managing director John Scott confirmed the business case and associated cabinet submission for the funding was being prepared by staff within the Department of Training and Workforce Development.

"CYOC needs carry-on funding to enable us to continue to employ our project team beyond the end of August," he said.

"That is being favourably considered at this point in time.

"We still don't have a date on when we will know but we understand there is a process that needs to be undertaken."

Mr Scott said the funding was needed in an expeditious manner so that CYOC was able to sign the formal agreement with CSU.

"I think all parties involved understand the urgency of this and I am comfortable that we are as best placed as we can be at this time and all stakeholders are aware of the matter," he said.

Without the funding there would be no agreement between CSU and CYOC, meaning tertiary agribusiness education in WA would again be under threat.

Muresk Old Collegians Association (MOCA) president John Hassell said he was seriously concerned and frustrated that there had still been no formal commitment from the State Government.

Mr Hassell said the Training and Workforce Development Minister Terry Redman was playing a game of the chicken or the egg.

"He seems to think that he has to get proof from industry that they are going to support the course, but without an actual confirmed course, the industry won't support it," he said.

Mr Hassell said MOCA was not prepared to go out and ask industry for support if there wasn't going to be a course at Muresk.

Mr Hassell was worried that without serious commitment from the State Government, CSU would walk away from the deal, which would signal the end of Muresk.

Mr Redman said the Department of Training and Workforce Development was working with CYOC, Department of Training and Workforce Development, Department of Regional Development and the Wheatbelt Development Commission to finalise a business case for consideration by the Regional Development Minister on how the funding would be spent.

"As was recently announced, the State Government has committed up to $10 million in Royalties for Regions funding over four years to Muresk to support the development of higher education courses in agriculture," he said.

"The Department of Training and Workforce Development will provide transitional funding in 2013 (while the business case is finalised) to support the development of a higher education course with the intention that the course begins in Semester 1, 2014.

"CYOC has been working to form a partnership with CSU to deliver the course."

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