The final part of The Examiner’s interview with University of Tasmania Pro Vice-Chancellor David Adams and Northern Expansion Project director James McKee about the Inveresk relocation.
How much of the construction work will go to Tasmanian firms?
Mr McKee: We don’t have a predetermined figure around that but suffice to say we’re working hard. It’s part of our grant deeds with both the federal and state government. It’s part of our commitment to the community here that we will work in the interests with this community and do our best to create the environment where local providers will have the best chance to participate.
Why didn’t UTAS use a Tasmanian architecture firm for the concept plan?
Mr McKee: It went to open market and we chose the best tenderer. We still have to comply with procurement requirements – at all levels. Even though it’s a Melbourne-based firm, part of them coming here has been a commitment to helping engage with local firms. At the blunt edge it sounds like it was all about an external firm and that was done on a procurement basis and the best tender but we’ve tried to manage that so there’s a local outcome as well. It is that challenge for us. Experience and excellence and local procurement, and trying to find the best possible match of those so that we don’t compromise either too much.
Do you envisage that will be an issue through construction?
Mr McKee: It’s a balancing act.
Professor Adams: It’s also probably useful to note it’s a balancing act within what we’re doing because we have fairly significant builds bother here at Inveresk, at West Park and in Hobart. Whilst people expect us to move ahead quickly on all three fronts – we have to stage that, particularly if we want to maximise opportunities for Tasmanian involvement. If we tried to do all three at once we simply wouldn’t have within our Tasmanian industries the capability.
How will the move improve student education?
Professor Adams: By providing literally the world’s best facilities students are likely to be attracted here and have the best teaching and research facilities and importantly the best staff. In terms of the facility itself, it will attract the staff and the infrastructure that will enhance learning. Part of the want to come here is having a campus that is open, friendly, linked to the city doesn’t look like a traditional university but a place they want to spend time. It’s about a different way of teaching, it’s about world’s best practice capus, it’s about the connectivity to the city and about focusing at all times on the student experience. The best way to explain our masterplan is the primary principle driving it is; what will create the best student experience?
What has the feedback been like?
Professor Adams: Most of the feedback we’re getting at the moment is really constructive. The opportunity to really articulate this has been helpful because people still are struggling to understand the, why move? That has been the key bit of feedback that’s come through the last couple of weeks.