Flinders U’s big, really big, development

Flinders U is set to expand research, student and community infrastructure

What is happening: The development, to be built around a new connection to the rail system , includes a health research complex, new housing for 3000 international students, a hotel and retail. Flinders U says it “will invite public and private partners” to work on the projects.

More of the needed same: The development is separate from the university’s industry innovation research facility at neighbouring Tonsley Park, where there are plans for another hotel to service visitors to the university and corporate research partners working on Industry 4.0 technologies. 

Paying for it: The university expects to realise $16m for the project from use of crown land which will be converted to freehold. Flinders U will fund its share of the $200m health research complex from existing reserves and future borrowings. The university says it now has no debt.

Why now: The project’s potential largely depends on connecting Flinder’s campus to the rail network. A short but expensive, $120m (a big bridge is required) project has been on state and federal agendas since 2015. Funding was only confirmed in April.

Flinders under full-sail: This is another of the big change-programmes at Flinders U since VC Colin Stirling arrived in 2015 and set a course out of the doldrums in which the university had long languished.

He began by reorganising administration and continued with an academic restructure (bitterly contested by the campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union), creating a net increase in teaching jobs, but with unspecified loss of existing positions.

In 2017 Professor Stirling oversaw new entrepreneurship subjects, adapted from a programme at Temple U’s Fox Business School, available to all undergraduates.

In March the university said internal changes will generate $100m in savings over five years, for research.  There is a further $100m for teaching, from growth in student places.

And now he is looking to develop new revenue streams.


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