Transport obstacle to STEM strategy
ALL Australian universities, as with institutions in other OECD countries, are fostering science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects as a strategy to attract students and enhance their international reputation. For several decades, the University of Tasmania has fought to arrest the decline of STEM courses among young students who lack the aptitude or interest to tackle what are commonly seen as difficult or boring subjects. The UTAS push to develop a $400 million STEM complex in Hobart’s CBD rests on the assumption that a central location is more accessible by bus than the Sandy Bay campus and therefore will lead potentially to a vast increase of students from outer suburbs. Apart from the fact the market for new STEM students is more likely to be adults seeking to increase their employment skills, students are no different from the rest of society in favouring cars over buses. Universities are no longer 9-5 places of study and students need transport to access other activities during their busy lives. The university’s ideological objection to students using cars has led to Dynnyrne and beyond becoming a giant off-campus student car park. Given the cost and lack of parking in Hobart’s CBD, the forecast of masses of new students travelling from the outer suburbs by bus is unrealistic. The expectation of a Hobart CBD revitalisation based on STEM has the smell of a cargo cult “build it and they will come” fantasy.