The University of New South Wales (UNSW) is set to open a new campus next to Canberra’s CBD after the ACT Government agreed to spend $25 million with the university throughout its development.
The government will also provide 8 hectares of land in Reid under a peppercorn lease agreement to allow the project to go ahead in the hopes of boosting Canberra’s economy. It will be located along Constitution Avenue on the city’s east side and the site is also set to house a new Defence and Security Innovation Precinct.
The ACT will also pay administration and remediation costs, which could be in the millions if asbestos is found on the site.
The new campus is set to attract 6,000 students, create 2,000 jobs and add up to $3 billion to the local economy, according to UNSW and Chief Minister Andrew Barr.
“It will provide long-term confidence in the sector, and long-term confidence in Canberra,” Mr Barr said at the UNSW Canberra launch on Thursday (5 March).
The $1 billion development will take place over the next 15 years but the ACT Government has said that the Reid CIT campus will continue to operate until the new Woden campus has been completed, which is expected to be in the mid-2020s.
At the earliest, shovels will be in the ground in early 2021.
The project will strengthen Canberra’s reputation as an education hub, UNSW President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Jacobs said.
“UNSW has a 50-year history of delivering outstanding education and research in Canberra,” he said.
“This new campus will enable us to take the scale and quality of our involvement in Canberra to a new level. It is an exciting time for UNSW and for the national capital, as its tertiary education credentials are further enhanced.”
Mr Jacobs estimated that for every dollar of investment in a top university, there is a $15 return.
The new campus will expand UNSW’s foothold in Canberra after the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA) allowed civilian students to study alongside defence recruits in 2015.
UNSW Canberra Rector, Michael Frater, lauded the city for housing two top 50 universities, cementing Canberra as a leading education and knowledge city.
The ACT Government and UNSW originally signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the new Canberra campus in 2017, with discussions in the months prior floating 10,000 students on a 10-12 hectare site.