From the Vice-Chancellor

Volume 6 Number 3 March 8 - April 12 2010

Amenity for 21C students

The days are past when University of Melbourne students arrived for the academic year with just a notebook and pen – and perhaps for the scientifically-minded, a slide rule.

Today’s students use a laptop to take notes in class, to tap into information about their courses and subjects – and keep up with social networking. Student meeting areas with wireless connectivity are a feature across campus.

Ensuring students have the IT connectivity needed inside and beyond the classroom is a high priority. This year there is a new IT support website especially designed for viewing via students’ mobile phones.

But students returning to the University in 2010 will also notice many changes to student services and support in the campus landscape.

On both sides of campus, science and biomedicine students will find new student and learning centres dedicated to their needs. Here student service points and social spaces cluster around a library, creating a sense of cohort and community while supporting independent and collaborative learning.

Improved student amenity is also the focus of transformation of spaces in significant heritage buildings on campus. Such work requires the careful attention of a heritage consultant to ensure the heritage nature of the buildings is retained and, where possible, restored to original condition.

The architectural qualities of the 19th century Baldwin Spencer Building have been preserved while creatively adapting space for new uses in line with 21st century students. There is a new student centre, student lounge, design hall and new teaching spaces for the Melbourne School of Design.

New academic and social environments for students in the Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences have been created on the second level of the Old Arts Building, with contemporary learning environments in a spectacular heritage setting.

Our ‘heritage’ first-year Chemistry laboratories are now modern new laboratories with large flat screen display panels and computers enabling multimedia presentations of experimental methods. Another space has become a new computer lounge – the Labyrinth.

Changes to student amenity are not confined to the Parkville campus. At the Southbank campus of the Faculty of the VCA and Music returning students were greeted by a new open vista at the heart of the campus, and enhanced spaces and facilities for Production – its first comprehensive upgrade since 2001 – and Dance. Dance studios, costume storage, and sound and lighting facilities have been moved from demountables to refurbished permanent homes. And a new ‘shopfront’ facility enables a large range of costumes, props, sound and lighting equipment to be available for hire to students, alumni and arts organisations.

I hope our students find the spaces enjoyable, friendly and helpful as we start a new academic year.

Glyn Davis
Vice-Chancellor