Proposal for part of campus to be sold

ARARAT - Business transition plans submitted to the State Government on the future of the NMIT Aradale campus in Ararat may see part of the campus subdivided and sold, however, NMIT will continue to maintain a presence in Ararat.

Member for Ripon Joe Helper said details of the full impact of almost $300 million in cuts to TAFE funding have been revealed in a leaked cabinet document which spelt out how courses would be slashed, jobs lost and campuses closed.

"The transition plan will have a devastating impact on the TAFE sector, particularly in regional Victoria. The Government either does not understand or does not care about the importance of the TAFE system to regional Victorians. The Baillieu Government has shown the same disregard for regional Victoria as it did when it cut funding for the DPI offices and the CFA."

"If anyone thought that cutting $300 million would not have an impact locally then you just need to look at the transition plan for NMIT and its Ararat campus. The campus, situated in one of Victoria's prime wine making regions, provides strong support to our local wine industry.

"The Ararat campus will be forced make a significant 'organisational restructure' in an effort to manage its share of the funding cuts for NMIT. There appear to also be preliminary plans to sell off part of the Ararat site.

"Ararat is currently working through the Prison redevelopment debacle and is now faced with the further challenge of managing the changes to TAFE funding and the impact they will have on the wider community."

An NMIT spokesperson said NMIT would continue to maintain a presence in Ararat in some form.

The spokesperson said that in the transition plan was a proposal to retain the Ararat campus, but potentially subdivide the site and sell off part of it for reinvestment.

"This may include the part of the site including the old heritage buildings, which may well be returned to the state, unless there is an appropriate new development option for the buildings," the spokesperson said.

"If some subdivision occurs there will be some assets retained for NMIT including the winery, vineyard, olive plantation, lavender and training centre.

"In all likelihood it (campus) will be retained but a portion of the site subdivided."

The NMIT spokesperson said included in the assets on the site were a number of houses in Grano Street.

He said there is also a proposal to have each house placed on its own title and sold.

"We want to stress that all proposals in the business transition plan are just proposals at the moment," he said.

"We have had no kind of solid feedback from the government yet and don't expect it in any formal sense until late October.

"The proposals around Ararat site are in a smaller category... and we are not anticipating the government will move on the proposal regarding Ararat in the short term."

Currently there are no stand alone full courses conducted at the Ararat Campus, but students from other campuses utilise the facilities.

Viticulture and agriculture departments of NMIT use the facilities to supplement courses conducted at other campuses.

While there are only a small number of staff at the NMIT Aradale Campus at present, the spokesperson said what ever happens in relation to the proposals, staff will be required to keep it operational.

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