The Vice-Chancellors of Monash University and the University of Ballarat have announced an investigation into amalgamating Monash’s Gippsland University and the University of Ballarat into a single, regional focused institution.

Victorian Minister for Higher Education, Peter Hall, has offered the State Government’s in-principle support for the move, saying it would benefit students from across the state, giving them access to a wide range of courses tailored to the needs of regional students.

The Vice-Chancellors said that the move is an exciting opportunity to deliver higher education to regional communities throughout the state, and that the proposition would support the economic development of surrounding regions.

Monash’s Vice-Chancellor Ed Byrne said that the plan had been in the works for some months.

“Towards the end of 2012 the suggestion emerged to join the Gippsland campus with the University of Ballarat to form an expanded regionally focused university. This flowed from the shared desire of the two universities to improve the delivery of regional higher education,” Professor Byrne said.

University of Ballarat Vice-Chancellor Professor David Battersby said the new approach would allow the bringing together of skills and expertise developed at both Gippsland and Ballarat to the benefit of all the communities that they serve.

“The University of Ballarat has extensive experience in delivering in-person support to students studying across a widely dispersed region, while the Gippsland campus has considerable expertise in delivering distance education and online learning,” Professor Battersby said.

The new arrangement would also enable the range of courses being offered by the University of Ballarat and the Gippsland campus to be expanded by drawing on the knowledge and expertise residing within them. Each also has considerable research expertise and industry links, which are regionally focused. Being able to join and extend expertise in these areas will enable improved, more tailored options for students, industry and community development in regional Victoria. This will be explored in detail and be a critical part of being able to develop a successful transition plan should the proposition proceed.