The University of Newcastle has announced the award of the tender for construction of the Tamworth Education Centre (TEC) to Port Macquarie builder, A W Edwards Pty Ltd. 

The project marks the construction of an Education Centre for the University’s Department of Rural Health (UDRH), on the Johnston Street site adjacent the Tamworth Hospital, along with accommodation for more than 50 students on the site.

University of Newcastle Director of Regional Campuses, Mr Trevor Gerdsen, said the University currently accommodates more than 100 students in Tamworth, who are on rural clinical placements in the hospital or with health care providers in the city.

The project has been funded through a $15m grant from the Commonwealth’s Health and Hospital Fund. Additional funding through the Health Workforce Australia program will see the existing UDRH building within the hospital grounds repurposed to support hospital staff training and University student learning.

“The Education Centre will include tutorial and study facilities, as well as clinical teaching and simulation laboratories, across a total of 2500 square metres of floor area in a two-storey building.  The entire facility will be technology-enabled with high-speed broadband communications supporting high definition video-conferencing and tele-health capability, as well as enabling students and University staff to connect with other campuses of the University and the world.”

Demolition and site remediation works on Johnston Street have already commenced and the University expects to have the contractor on site by the end of May, with works planned for completion in the first part of 2014.

The Johnston Street site totals seven hectares, providing considerable scope for future expansion. The TEC will support the continued clinical placement in the hospital of University of Newcastle students in medicine, allied health and nursing programs.  Currently several hundred students each year undertake a clinical placement and attend their teaching and clinical laboratory tutorials within the existing UDRH facility at the hospital. 

“Completion of the TEC will provide not just capacity for expansion but also for enriched learning support for these students in a regional hospital setting.  This important project ensures students in medicine and allied health programs such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy, nutrition and dietetics, and medical radiation science, have opportunities for clinical placements in rural or regional hospitals during their training.

The University acknowledges the support of the Member for New England, the Hon Tony Windsor MP and the Australian Government, for this project.