Concern over low enrolments and rising costs at the Northam campus have led Curtin University to start a consultation process with staff and community stakeholders over the future of agricultural education at Curtin and the Northam facilities.
Curtin Deputy Vice-Chancellor Academic Professor Jane den Hollander visited the Northam campus this week to discuss these issues with staff.
“Falling student demand for agricultural courses nationally has highlighted the need to change the way agricultural science is managed within Curtin, to better meet the needs of science and business students,” said Professor den Hollander.
“All of Curtin’s agriculture courses have been reviewed and redesigned following extensive consultation with community, industry, government and alumni stakeholders, and from 2010 the agribusiness course will be taught by the Curtin Business School. Agricultural science courses will remain within the Faculty of Science and Engineering.
“These changes will strengthen the courses by promoting them in a more appealing and accessible way, and providing clearer information on the career opportunities open to graduates.”
Professor den Hollander said the range of courses offered at the Northam campus would not change in 2010. However, unless a significant number of additional students could be recruited, changes were likely from 2011.
“Low enrolments and the high costs of delivery at Northam mean the University has to subsidise the campus financially. In 2008 the subsidy was $1.5 million, rising to $2.4 million projected for 2009. This situation is not sustainable,” she said.
“Between 200 and 250 equivalent full time students are needed to make the campus viable, and enrolments at Northam are currently 95.
“Curtin is very concerned about enrolment levels at Northam, and while no decision to close the campus has been made, we need to be frank with staff and the community about the issues we are facing.”
Professor den Hollander said she would now be meeting with a range of community stakeholders, including local and state government representatives, alumni groups, industry and advisory bodies.