Private offshoot wins reprieve - with strings

June 20, 2003

Australia's only private university to be established by a public institution has received approval to operate for another five years, under strict conditions.

Melbourne University Private, established by the University of Melbourne in 1998, has had five tumultuous years that have seen it come near bankruptcy.

This year it faced the loss of its title after state education minister Lynne Kosky became concerned it was not meeting Australian protocols governing higher education institutions. She set up an expert panel in 2002 to review its future.

In a report to Ms Kosky last month, the panel said it had considered a recommendation not to approve MUP continuing as a university. It concluded MUP was addressing the protocol requirements but that unconditional approval would not be appropriate. Ms Kosky said she shared the panel's concerns over the paucity of research outcomes from MUP. It was also dominated by "non-higher education" activities after merging with another of the university's commercial arms, Melbourne Enterprises International, which operates English-language schools around the world.

While accepting the panel's recommendation that MUP be conditionally approved to operate for a further five years, Ms Kosky attached a series of provisos, including an annual report to parliament and an audit by the Australian University Quality Agency by July 2007.

MUP chief executive David Lloyd said he was delighted with the decision. It provided reassurance for staff, students and corporate clients that the uncertainty created during the review period was over, he said.

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