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  • Writer's pictureWill Boddy

New Kid on the Block

Updated: May 1, 2019

HOBART’s inner city will become an animated hub for shoppers and future students alike over the coming decade as the University of Tasmania (UTAS) announces their plan to develop a brand-new campus in town.

Over the next 10 to 15 years, multiple buildings in the CBD will make up the new UTAS campus in what’s being called a ‘game-changer’ for the future of the university.

Instead of maintaining the existing institution in Sandy Bay, the university plan to spend $600 million adding new facilities spanning from the original sandstone buildings at the Domain, all the way into Melville street.

The long-awaited decision came when the University Council met in Burnie on Friday April 5 after lengthy discussions with staff, students and City Council members. The announcement will affect many different people in a variety of ways; from business owners gaining more customers, to students having access to all new study spaces.

UTAS student Phoebe Boddy, currently undertaking an Education degree said she could see the benefits of having a new state-of-the-art university in Hobart.

“Well, I think lunchtime food businesses will definitely benefit because students tend to go off campus to find food because all there is at Sandy Bay is Lazenby’s and the TUU.”

Having studied the majority of her degree online, and living more than 30km from the city centre, Phoebe said if and when the new university campus is finished, “it is still so far away from where I live and by the time it’s done, I will have been done with UTAS.”

She is hopeful about what the new move may provide, especially alternate course delivery methods. “Maybe they could actually offer Education as an on-campus degree rather than online through Launceston or Cradle Coast.”

Phoebe mentioned that Physiotherapy is not offered in Tasmania, and some of her friends have had to travel to Queensland just study it. “There’s also Paramedicine, that’s only down here as fast-tracked, same with Nursing. You have to go up to Launceston if you don’t want to do it fast-tracked, whereas if they built a brand-new, huge university, perhaps they could expand it to include something like that.”

The University Council essentially had two distinct development options: to move into the city and keep the existing Sandy Bay institution for its sporting, research and accommodation facilities, or alternatively redesign and rebuild the aging campus at $570 million while retaining the already existing precincts in the city.

UTAS Chancellor Michael Field stated that the move builds upon the university’s gradual shift into the city, and the long-term direction they have chosen will improve access to education, economic development and cultural diversity.

Addressing students directly by email, Vice-Chancellor Professor Rufus Black ensured that the move “meets the needs of staff and the 21st-century student.” And while the proposed move is still over a decade away, problems like traffic congestion and limited parking spaces will need to be addressed in some form.

“Unless there’s so much onsite parking which I’m sure there won’t be, it's already so annoying to try and get parking in town,” Phoebe said. “To add all of those university students into that would just make it even harder I imagine.”

Phoebe ended by saying that the future student will “look forward to being late for classes because they underestimate the traffic in the mornings.”

This move is still a long way away yet, and classes will still resume as normal at Sandy Bay for many years to come. However, it is clear that the move will rustle a few peoples feathers in the process.

An impression of the proposed STEM building on the corner of Argyle and Melville Street. (Supplied: UTAS)

Intended for print media

Copyright © Will Boddy 2019

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