Infrastructure Australia approves Hobart STEM relocation

17 February 2017

Infrastructure Australia, the nation's independent infrastructure advisor, has approved the business case for the relocation of the University of Tasmania's Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) facilities to Hobart CBD and added the project to the Infrastructure Priority List.

The Infrastructure Priority List is the authoritative list of nationally-significant infrastructure investments Australia needs over the next 15 years. The List provides independent, evidence-based advice to governments and industry on the projects that will most benefit Australian communities.

The relocation of the University of Tasmania STEM facilities from Sandy Bay to Hobart CBD was identified as an Initiative on the 2016 Infrastructure Priority List. Following positive assessment of the business case by the Infrastructure Australia Board, it has today been listed as a Priority Project on the Infrastructure Priority List.

“This is a city-shaping plan with a proven business case. Shifting the University's STEM facilities to a new purpose-built facility in Hobart's CBD will boost the State economy and show the major benefits that come from strategic infrastructure investment,” said Infrastructure Australia Chairman Mark Birrell.

“STEM skills are increasingly important for Australia's economic competitiveness. With the University's existing STEM facilities nearing the end of their usable life, the proposed relocation to the Hobart CBD has the potential to drive a 60 per cent increase in undergraduate demand in an area where Australia urgently needs to boost student uptake.

“This visionary proposal by the University has been assessed by Infrastructure Australia as nationally-significant and included on the Infrastructure Priority List because it would boost Australia's STEM skills and research capability and further support the development of high-value science, technology, engineering and mathematics related industries in the Hobart CBD.

“It is also the first education project to be approved by the independent Infrastructure Australia Board.”

“Experience both in Australia and abroad suggests that investment of this scale can also help attract new industries to the CBD which could in turn support economic and population growth—enabling Hobart to better adapt to the State's changing economy.

“The University of Tasmania has already made significant in-roads in its bid to establish Hobart as a world-class centre for research and innovation, completing construction of the Hobart CBD Medical and Health Sciences Precinct in 2013 and relocating the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies to new facilities in the CBD in 2014”, Mr Birrell said.

The Infrastructure Priority List is developed based on the data from the Australian Infrastructure Audit and extensive consultation with State and Territory Governments, business and the community. Each project that is approved to go on the Infrastructure Priority List is underpinned by a robust, evidence-based business case, meaning Australian governments and the community can have confidence that these projects have significant strategic merit and are truly in the national interest.

The evaluation summary for the relocation of University of Tasmania STEM facilities to Hobart CBD is now available.

Relocation of University of Tasmania STEM facilities to Hobart CBD

  • The University of Tasmania's existing science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) facilities at the Sandy Bay campus are fragmented, and nearing the end of their usable life. The facilities lack the modern technical infrastructure that characterise a high-end research environment, and struggle to attract Tasmanian, interstate and international students.
  • The proposal is for the development of a purpose-built STEM facility for tertiary education, research and training in the Hobart CBD. This would relocate the University of Tasmania's Faculty of Science, Engineering and Technology from the existing campus at Sandy Bay to a new facility in the Hobart CBD. The proposed 45,050 m2 facility would initially accommodate 3,000 students and 700 staff.
  • The development would be supported by ongoing university and government programs and policies to increase higher education participation in Tasmania, and would also bring about further urban regeneration of Hobart's CBD. The University's economic evaluation of the project states net benefits of $364 million and a Benefit Cost Ratio of 1.95.
  • The University has developed $220 million in infrastructure over the past five years and has committed a further $217 million to developments which are underway. These relocation and redevelopment projects have resulted in significant increases in student enrolment and research income.
  • Between 2011 and 2015, the number of students commencing in the Faculty of Health has increased at an average annual rate of 18%, following the completion of the Hobart CBD Medical and Health Sciences Precinct in 2009 (stage 1) and 2013 (stage 2). Similarly, since the relocation of the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies to new facilities in the CBD in 2014, research income has increased by 35.7%.