LEAKED cabinet documents have revealed Swinburne University wants the state government to buy its Lilydale TAFE campus or allow it to be sold off.
The revelations bring into question whether the campus will continue as a tertiary institution or be sold off to other entities.
Yarra Ranges mayor Graham Warren slammed the secret document, labelling the situation as an ‘‘absolute disaster for the outer-east’’.
‘‘I am outraged that Swinburne think they have an ethical or moral right to do this — the site was gifted to them by the state government,’’ he said.
Cr Warren said he had heard but could not confirm rumours that developers had been inspecting the site.
The 86-page leaked report, provided to The Age last night, estimates the Lilydale campus, if sold, would fetch up to $27.5 million.
State member for Evelyn Christine Fyffe said that despite the reports, locals should remain confident that vocational and tertiary education would continue in the area.
‘‘I don’t even know that what is being reported is true,’’ Ms Fyffe said.
‘‘I remain quietly confident that we will have continuing education offered in the outer-east, and in fact will provide an even better range of education opportunities.’’
Ms Fyffe said she was ‘‘not even anticipating’’ the closure of educational opportunities at the Lilydale site.
She also believed there was ‘‘no link’’ between the state government’s $290m TAFE cuts and the closure of the Swinburne Lilydale campus.
‘‘The university wasn’t viable. They didn’t market or promote courses to the extent they should have, or do enough to encourage locals to take up a position.’’
Labor member for Monbulk James Merlino however criticised this as a ‘‘ridiculous comment’’.
‘‘The decision to close was directly involved with the TAFE cuts. They [the state government] can blame everyone else but in the end Ted Baillieu ripped out $35million from the Lilydale campus.
‘‘It’s clear from these documents that the intention is to put a ‘for sale’ sign out the front and sell it off regardless of who buys it.’’
Swinburne University did not respond to specific questions asked by the Weekly, except to say that future tenants of the site were currently undecided.
“We will work closely with the Victorian Government, local communities and other providers to plan futures for Lilydale and Prahran which include the continued provision of post-secondary education at both locations,” Professor Linda Kristjanson, the university’s vice-chancellor, said in a statement.
Yarra Ranges Council is calling for another education institute to take over the site. Cr Warren said consultation in this regard was positive.
‘‘It’s going really well. A number of entities have said they’d like to have a presence, and would be happy to provide services.’’
A public forum will be held on September 26 for residents to hear about the future of tertiary education and training in the outer-east.