The Woden Town Centre is being considered as a potential site for a new purpose-built Canberra Institute of Technology campus to replace the Reid facility in the city.
The ACT Government is investigating whether to upgrade the prime Reid site or identify a new site to develop a modern, state-of-the-art campus.
City Services Minister Chris Steel said that the site could be nearby in the Constitution Avenue precinct, where the University of NSW Canberra is considering establishing a new campus, or it could anchor the Woden Town Centre, which is being transformed by new high-rise residential developments and is in need of community facilities.
Mr Steel, who is also a local MLA, said siting a new CIT in Woden would support its regeneration, particularly with the coming redevelopment of the interchange in preparation for light rail Stage 2.
He said a benefit of moving to Woden was that it could provide a smooth transition for staff and students, with a facility able to be built before having to vacate the Reid site.
Woden Valley Community Council president Fiona Carrick said a CIT in the Town Centre would support educational opportunities for the entire South, including Tuggeranong and Weston Creek, not just Woden.
She said it would be a reason for people to go to Woden, which is a transport, community and business hub for the South, and there would be big flow-on benefits to its small businesses.
But Mr Steel said the Government’s priority was to build new CIT campus to deliver high-quality VET services.
He said it would be a substantial project that would require a site to be identified and design work to establish a cost.
A Government spokesperson said the Terms of Reference for an analysis of site options were being developed now and a consultant would be engaged to carry out the work, with the findings expected in time for a public announcement by the end of 2019 or early 2020.
“We will continue to assess all options for the future of the CIT site in Reid, including ongoing discussions with UNSW, should CIT move to Woden,” the spokesperson said.
“In discussions with UNSW to date about a proposed new city campus, the ACT Government has made it clear that the needs and best interests of CIT will be a primary consideration in reaching a decision about a redevelopment of the precinct by UNSW. We are broadly supportive of this transformational project. However, careful consideration of the detail within the business case, and an assessment of the costs and benefits to the Canberra community is still in progress. ”
Minister for Vocational Education and Skills Meegan Fitzharris said the ACT Government would work closely with CIT over the coming months to commission an independent assessment of sites in Woden that could accommodate a new CIT campus.
“Positioning CIT with a major presence in the heart of Woden has the potential to enhance the Town Centre and create an energy around a new campus that will open up a range of opportunities for CIT staff and students, local businesses, industry and the broader community,” she said.
Chair of the CIT Governing Board, Craig Sloan said campus renewal was a key to the evolution of CIT’s ability to support the ACT economy through providing a skilled workforce for contemporary needs.
“Industry and students have told us traditional classrooms isolated from employers and removed from the broader ecosystem are no longer capable of meeting the needs of the changing world of work. CIT needs to continue to evolve to transform the way we teach to help equip students with the vocational education, industry relevance and skills needed for the ACT to prosper.”
The Reid site would be a prime development opportunity and a windfall for the Government if it should choose to sell.
There are four other CIT sites in Canberra – Fyshwick, Bruce, Gungahlin and Tuggeranong.