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Shepparton students fear restructure fallout

A La Trobe University Shepparton campus student has urged the vice-chancellor not to treat its regional students as second-class citizens.

ALEXANDRA BOLKAS May 9, 2014 2:59am

Changes concern: La Trobe Shepparton students Russell Taylor and Linda Marikar are worried the university's restructure could affect their course delivery and teacher contact hours.



Bachelor of Arts student Ashlee Hadfield was among more than 15 others from the Shepparton campus to voice concerns about course delivery in a forum the university’s vice chancellor and colleagues hosted on Wednesday.

The interactive forum at the university’s Bundoora campus was video-linked to campuses including Mildura, Bendigo, Albury and Shepparton.

The forum was organised in conjunction with the university’s student union.


It aimed to address student concern about the university’s restructure in a bid to save $65million and its effect on learning conditions.

This year vice-chancellor Professor John Dewar announced the university’s five faculties would be combined into two colleges in October and 350 full time jobs would be cut.


They would be known as the College of Arts, Social Sciences and Commerce and the College of Science, Health and Engineering.

Ms Hadfield said she attended the forum because she was concerned the university was making sweeping changes without consulting Shepparton students.


‘‘I’m worried there are changes being made without consultation to the regional campuses,’’ she said.


‘‘The vice-chancellor said the changes were being made in consultation with the Student Advisory Panel, but there are no Shepparton students on that panel.’’

Ms Hadfield said she was worried face-to-face contact hours were being dropped as the university shifted towards blended learning, including online instruction and video conferencing.


‘‘We’re not second-class students — the change to blended learning will mean we’re not receiving the same level interaction,’’ she said.


‘‘We pay the same fees as Bundoora students — if they get face-to-face course delivery we should get the same here.’’


Bachelor of Business and Accounting student Russell Taylor said he was worried his contact hours would be cut next year.


‘‘I live in Strathmerton and travel one hour each way to get to uni — it’s a long way to travel if we’re not getting face-to-face instruction, ‘‘ he said.


He said presently one of his subjects was delivered via video, which made for a difficult learning environment.


Humanities student Linda Marikar said she was also worried about a shift to blended learning.


‘‘There are no room for discussions and discussion is where people generate ideas,’’ she said.


A La Trobe University spokesman said it would continue to meet with students to hear their concerns.

He said the university was committed to its regional presence and no final decision had been made about changes to course delivery.

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