New ACU campus for Blacktown

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ACU Blacktown campus
The proposed design for the ACU Blacktown campus. IMAGE: ACU

The Australian Catholic University has been given the green light by Blacktown City Council to build a student campus in the Western Sydney suburb.

The university plans to establish an information centre in a council-owned building in Main Street in the Blacktown CBD later this year. It will offer ACU College and short courses in executive education in 2020, followed by undergraduate and postgraduate programs across four faculties in 2021.

By 2024 it plans to open a permanent campus with two new buildings in Warwick Lane built in partnership with the council and with input from the community and local businesses.

Blacktown ACU will be the university’s third Sydney location, joining its campuses in Strathfield and North Sydney.

ACU Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Greg Craven and Blacktown City Mayor Stephen Bali MP, made the joint announcement this morning.

The new plan is good news for the 17 per cent of current ACU students and five per cent of staff who currently travel from the Blacktown area to its Sydney campuses.

Prof Greg Craven said the Blacktown CBD campus marks “an exciting new phase” for the university and he was looking forward to working with Blacktown’s businesses, schools and community groups to support the growing population which is tipped to reach more than half a million by 2036.

“By 2036 half of Sydney’s population will live in Western Sydney yet currently only 18 per cent of university places are in the area,” he said.

“An ACU campus in Blacktown will stand at the cultural and geographical heart of the community. It will put the people first.

“We will strive to serve Blacktown’s diverse local student body by providing innovative, quality higher education courses as well as state-of-the-art physical spaces for study, recreation and reflection.”

Mayor Bali said that ACU was the “clear contender” to win the project which will be a “game-changer” for the city that is expected to reach a population of over 500,000 by 2036.

The new campus will provide a local option for the more than 54,000 higher education students living within 30 minutes of Blacktown.

“ACU had proven it was capable of responding to the needs of a growing and diverse population and was also willing to make a considerable capital investment in the construction of the campus,” he said.

“Our students can now look forward to getting a quality education without having to commute for hours across Sydney every day.

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“ACU already has a strong network of industry partners and expertise in Blacktown. We have our own considerable network of local providers who will build active partnerships with the University.

“Together, they will bring education, training, research and experience to the Blacktown community. There are 18,000 university students living in Blacktown City – currently they all have to travel long distances to attend their courses, but now, our high school students will have the opportunity within three years to study at a university right here in Blacktown.”

Greater Blacktown Business Chamber vice president Bo Turner said the central location of the new campus will increase the vitality of the Blacktown CBD and stimulate business growth and activity.

Mayor Stephen Bali and Prof Greg Craven
Blacktown City Mayor Stephen Bali MP, at left, and ACU Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Greg Craven jointly announced the new ACU Blacktown campus on 5 March. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

“Blacktown City’s 20,000-plus businesses and ACU both win through this partnership,” he said. “A workforce starts with education and ACU Blacktown will become a valuable contributor providing the young population of Blacktown with new prospects and opportunities.”

Since 2015 it has been a strategic goal of ACU to explore options for a Western Sydney campus.

Last November the university said it was considering submitting an expression of interest after the council announced it would provide local tertiary education for the more than 54,000 higher education students living within 30 minutes of Blacktown.