VU Campus Closure
The Victoria University of Technology, Sunbury and Melton campuses provide courses such as, Education, Sport Administration, Music (performance) and Music (Technology), hospitality and early child hood development. It should be noted that a few of the courses such as Music is only offered at the Sunbury campus. The Victoria University proudly states that it will, consult with Staff, students and community leaders to ensure that it will deliver courses that the students want. Victoria University is on the record as stating that it remains committed to providing the best possible educational opportunities for young people living in Melbourne's west" Further to the announcements of 270 job cuts which is the highest mass redundancy of any Australian University, on the 27 October 2008 the Victoria University Council issued a media release announcing that enrolments at the campuses would cease by 2010, rationalization of courses and closure of the campuses subject to the relevant Governments approval. The Victorian Government has publicly admonished the University for acting prior to the completion of the Bradley review, further evidencing that VU is acting without appropriate approvals and that the publicly stated consultative processes with Staff, students and community leaders is tokenistic at the best. VU at a time of low rental vacancies and high housing stress have also decided to close student accommodation that is supporting approximately 1000 students – 60 at Sunbury. If VU closes student accommodation it will ensure some students will not be able to complete their courses. Once again despite VU promises to support students to complete their courses it has acted in the opposite manner. Despite assurances that no decision had been made would not be made until November, the VU council have proceeded with acting on the closure of the campuses, ceasing enrolments, and cutting courses. The course changes issued to students late November 2008 does not appear to enable affected students the opportunity to reassess their immediate future, where they will access courses in the future, thereby transition smoothly. Prior assurances given by VU to students - committing to a consultative process and ample time for students to transition have proven to be misleading by the very nature of subsequent announcements made and actions by VU. The cancelling or rationalisation of courses, massive staff cuts, imminent closure of student accommodation and closure of these campuses will effectively remove support for school leavers and mature aged Melton and Sunbury students to obtain fair and equitable access to TAFE and Higher Education. Furthermore the timing of the decisions and actions taking place is contrary to the formal assurances provided by VU and will not enable students to effectively transition. VU are offering no guarantees that students located at these facilities will be able to complete their courses at local equally accessible fully staffed campuses. The distinct lack of transparency by VU in its decision making process would appear to be at odds with its own Council code of conduct. It should be noted that VU does not and is not committing to true community engagement, which is a major requirement to successfully delivering education in small campuses on the fringe of Melbourne. How will VU achieve its stated objectives without engaging with the wider community The purpose of this petition is to call on the Federal and Victorian State Government to intervene and Victoria University to support a reversal of the decisions in process to enable an extended review to be completed and to support fully staffed and supported delivery of TAFE and higher education services to the affected Melbourne western suburbs and affected outer regions. We the undersigned, being students, alumni, faculty staff, local residents and members of the broader community request the following of the Victorian Legislative assembly, Commonwealth Government of Australia - House of Representatives, and Victoria University Council. • Immediately stop the cutting and rationalisation of courses offered by VU, the 270 staff redundancies, ceasing 2010 enrolments at Melton and Sunbury Campuses, and closure student accommodation. • Retention of the Sunbury and Melton campuses in the current format (2008) including student accommodation and to continue to offer both TAFE and HE courses to the surrounding regions until such time as an extended review is completed and full transitional arrangements can be made to another university. • That an open, collective, and consultative meeting process be established with students, staff, the affected communities, and community leaders in regard to the future of the Sunbury and Melton campuses and course structures, offering equal access to tertiary and vocational education to outer Melbourne communities • That the board and council of Victoria University demonstrate to all concerned that appropriate surveys, focus groups and whole community consultation have been undertaken with regard to any hypothetical models being put forward to the Council and that the decision process has been in accordance with the VU policies and processes and Council Code of conduct.