The City of Armadale wants a university campus built within its boundaries to help increase the number of local students who pursue a tertiary education.
Armadale has a lower-than-average number of students completing year 12, and higher-than-average youth unemployment – both issues the council hopes to address with the establishment of a local university campus.
Armadale Mayor Henry Zelones said the city had been keen on having a university move in for the past few years.
“There’s a long history to the city’s involvement with trying to achieve a bricks-and-mortar solution to the fact that we have no tertiary education facilities in Armadale and, in fact, there’s not even a TAFE presence,” Mr Zelones said.
“A number of years ago, the Australian Technical College was set up, but our demographics are showing that we have a very low level of university graduates attending university from here, and the bulk of students seem to be going into vocational pursuits.”
Mr Zelones said the region had been overlooked and would benefit from a higher learning facility.
“We spoke to the local universities: Murdoch, Curtin and UWA. They have spread out and gone into regional areas to establish facilities there, but still in the south-eastern corner there’s a definite lack,” he said.
“For those students who’d like to pursue it, but have limited resources, comes a huge stumbling block, so hence the city’s involvement in trying to achieve a better outcome for our residents.
“We had a commitment from the State Government at one stage to a TAFE site. Money was allocated, then it was withdrawn and it was sent I think to the South-West portion of the metro area and spent down there, so again we missed out.”
Tuesday’s City of Armadale council meeting was told specific universities had been identified as having courses and flexible learning facilities that would suit Armadale’s demographic.
But Mr Zelones said the universities were not interested.
“In the short-term there’s no interest from the State Government or the major universities to expand into Armadale, even though it’s now approaching 100,000 residents and a larger population based in the region,” Mr Zelones said.
“There’s still no plans to establish a permanent facility here, so we’re pursuing other ideas and other suits to see if we can’t get something happening here that might be a precursor to formalising a permanent settlement of an educational institution.”