The Blacktown community, and in particular its students, are set to benefit as a five-year journey to establish a local campus for the Australia Catholic University (ACU) is on track to culminate with the first students commencing in 2021.
It’s especially welcome for the Year 12 Class of 2020 who, due to the pandemic, have had an experience that, more than any others, has ‘tested their perseverance”.
Cass Regan, Year 12 student from Nagle College welcomed not only the chance to study close to home, but an early entry offer to study Exercise and Sports Science through the ACU Guarantee program. “It’s alleviated some of the stress” she said. Cass was one of a number of special guests who attended the opening of the new ACU Information Centre in the Main St of Blacktown on Monday 14 September.
Catholic schools such as Patrician Brothers Blacktown are looking at ways to work with the University to benefit their students. “Patrician Brothers Blacktown has signed a “Letter of Intent” with ACU. It means together we will be exploring possible alternate university pathways, along with other initiatives such as professional staff development, and involvement in research,” said Frank Chiment, Principal of the school. “Eventually, this may benefit all school students in the Diocese of Parramatta.”
The Mayor of Blacktown, Cr Tony Bleasdale was clear on the benefits the campus will bring to the students of Blacktown. “Education is one of the most important things our community needs to progress” he said. “Our students will no longer need to leave Blacktown to study. Currently, 18,000 students leave the area to study each year.”
“We approached all university Vice-Chancellors to set up a campus in Blacktown” said the Member for Blacktown and former mayor of Blacktown, Steve Bali MP, who was involved in initiating the process. “ACU was head and shoulders above the others, the way it wanted to become involved in the Blacktown community” he said.
Acting Vice-Chancellor of the ACU, Prof. Zlato Skrbis said the University was ‘incredibly passionate and privileged’ to be part of the future development of the Blacktown community.
ACU will offer around 30 courses in the faculties of Education and Arts, Health Sciences, Law and Business, and Theology and Philosophy for both undergraduate, postgraduate and pathways students. There will be a fee-free pathway program that prepares students for study at ACU by immersing them in university life while introducing them to a range of foundation units, as well as a number of scholarships on offer.
ACU has had a ‘healthy’ interest from potential students for 2021. It is ranked in the top 2 per cent of universities in the world and is one of the top 10 Catholic universities globally. Undergraduates have a 95.5% employment rate and post-graduates 98.6% placing it number one on this measure of all Australian universities.
The ACU acknowledged the successful partnership between the ACU and Blacktown City Council to establish the campus, was one of the most significant initiatives of the late Hon John Fahey AC, GCSG, Chancellor of the University who died over the weekend.
ACU’s Blacktown Campus will be named in honour of St Josephine Bakhita, patron saint of Sudan and of victims of slavery. True to its mission as a Catholic University, ACU Blacktown will be distinctly Catholic but welcoming of people of all faiths and none; inviting them to engage fully in an authentic Catholic university experience in Western Sydney.
For more information go to the ACU Blacktown Campus website.