Students of La Trobe University’s Bundoora campus can look forward to a major makeover, with the State Government backing $5 billion plans plans to develop a “city of the future” vision for Bundoora and La Trobe.
The proposal allows for an expansion on housing facilities, a new town centre, a health and wellbeing hub, and sports complex, as well as additional eco-friendly walking paths and a revitalised research and innovation space.
Development stages are already starting to take over campus grounds, with a world-class sports park on the outskirts of La Trobe offering all types of community use nearing a completion date.
A partnership with Daniel Andrews’ Labor Government, the project proposal seeks to create over 20,000 jobs spread out across the ten years of construction, with a key focus on education and housing facilities for La Trobe students.
Vice-Chancellor Professor John Dewar welcomes the opportunity to open La Trobe up to the surrounding area.
“We are turning our campus ‘inside out’, welcoming our local communities to new and dynamic spaces, where community, industry, students and staff will work, live and learn,” he said.
The campus will become more accessible with a new rail link to Bundoora joining up to the Suburban Rail Loop, which is currently under construction, allowing more students to choose public transport and arrive to class on time.
La Trobe, founded in 1967, currently plays host to 36,000 students, and with the rapid growth of Melbourne’s population – an upgrade to a space that offers opportunities and generates jobs is paramount.
Vice President of Development of La Trobe Natalie MacDonald is pleased the project is being backed by the State Government, who want to ensure the university continues its trend of creating more jobs for Melburnians.
“The rate of growth is so high that you can’t keep just chewing up agricultural paddocks on the outskirts of the city, you’ve got to actually look for where you can use the opportunities that you’ve got that are close to jobs and services,” she told upstart.
“The University is a place that creates substantial jobs and substantial services and we’ve got an opportunity to help provide more jobs and more services, so the government have realised that we can be helpful in dealing with some of the growing pains that Melbourne currently has.”
MacDonald understands the pressures the ten-year development will place on students and staff, but considers this to be an extremely worthwhile investment.
“We’re absolutely looking to enhance and increase the range of services available to our students, whether that be through hospital service, better eat streets, more entertainment and cultural precincts, we want it to be a vibrant place for students to be,” she said..
“When you’re looking to attract private sector funding, you’ve got to be cognitive of what the demands are in the market.”
Student accessibility and housing plans remain a key focus, with MacDonald saying there are added opportunities to the City of the Future proposal and the green-light is closer than first anticipated.
“That will be an additional 600 student beds available, and that is in the form of studio apartments, so that will be a fabulous addition to the campus, and we’re looking to have those open in early to mid 2020,” she said.
MacDonald said one of the more exciting aspects away from education, housing and research precincts is what will be called the “eco-corridor”, an extended process soon to be opened to the public.
“We’ve got such a beautiful environmental aspect of La Trobe, with the wildlife sanctuary and the beautiful waterway’s running right through the campus it’s such a stunning place to be, we’re looking at how we can open the opportunities there with better walking paths.” MacDonald told upstart.
Students can expect to see progress over the next couple years, but only in small upgrades. Both La Trobe University and the State Government are working together to help educate and develop students of the future.
Kristian Amenta is a third-year Bachelor of Media and Communications (Sport Journalism) student at La Trobe University. You can follow him on twitter @AmentaKristian