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Pell says Notre Dame Campus will address skills shortage

Cardinal George Pell has defended the proposal to set up a branch campus of Perth's Notre Dame University in Sydney by claiming it would substantially increase the number of badly needed teachers, nurses and doctors in the Sydney region.

According to a report in today's Australian Financial Review, Cardinal Pell dismissed claims of a conflict between Notre Dame and the established, publicly funded Australian Catholic University by saying: "We don't have a Catholic university here in Sydney.

"We have two small campuses of a [national] Australian Catholic University, with about 3000 students out of a total 10,000, and they only provide 60% of the teachers we need," he said. "We need a bit of complementarity, possibly even competition."

He would not comment on whether the church had specific plans to expand the number of Catholic institutions, but said the church was "having a look" at some other properties with a view to letting them or using them for philanthropic purposes.

Cardinal Pell announced last week that the archdiocese would give Notre Dame $5 million in direct cash support as well as the use of church buildings and land worth $20 million in a highly sought-after area just 10 minutes from Sydney's CBD.

He told paper: "The university and archdiocese hope to develop a medical school at a church-owned Darlinghurst site and hope that St Vincent's Hospital would be able to co-operate over that.

"Notre Dame medical school is already on the way to accreditation and one possibility is to start with the last two years of the course the clinical placements not just in Sydney, but up and down the east coast."

The vice-chancellor of Notre Dame, Peter Tannock, confirmed his university would be entering a long-term lease agreement with the Sydney archdiocese, but without disclosing the rent it would be paying.

In response to a question from the AFR as to how the privately owned Notre Dame had negotiated a $4 million capital contribution from the federal government, Dr Tannock said his university was perfectly entitled to receive government funding.

"The government's grant to Notre Dame is by no means unprecedented," he said. "Our campuses in Fremantle and Broome, in WA, have received substantial government support in the form of both commonwealth-funded Hecs [Higher Education Contribution Scheme] places, commonwealth-funded capital grants (about $5 million to date) and low-interest loans from the state government.

Cardinal Pell also confirmed the ACU would be asked to pay more rent to the archdiocese for its two Sydney campuses but said it would be "nothing like a commercial amount". At present, ACU pays a peppercorn rent of $10 under an agreement with the previous owners of its two Sydney sites. It says it cannot afford to pay a commercial rent potentially amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars without cutting staff numbers or raising fees.

Pell denies Notre Dame, ACU discord (Financial Review 9/7/04 - payment required)

Notre Dame funds boost (Catholic Weekly 8/8/04)
ACU head reveals surprise at Notre Dame Uni Announcement (CathNews 4/8/04)
Paul Collins: Pell's conservatism adds fuel to the fire of Catholic disharmony (Sydney Morning Herald 3/8/04)
Profile: The Enigmatic Dr Peter Tannock (Online Catholics 4/8/04 - subscribers only
Notre Dame welcomes Federal support for Sydney campus (CathNews 2/8/04)
Notre Dame to spread east (The West Australian 31/7/04)
Hand-out to private university under fire (Sydney Morning Herald 2/8/04)
Turf war sours welcome at these holy gates (Sydney Morning Herald 2/8/04)
Nurses criticise private uni plan (The Sun-Herald 1/8/04)
Govt slammed over faculty closure (AAP/Seven News 1/8/04)
Howard details cash for new uni (AAP/Daily Telegraph 1/8/04)
Government to fund new private uni (Sydney Morning Herald 1/8/04)
New uni to tackle nurse shortage (Sunday Mail 1/8/04)
New city uni for medical students (The Sun-Herald 1/8/04)
Nursing boost in new uni package (Sunday Mail 1/8/04)
University of Notre Dame Australia
Who puts the 'R' in Catholic? Who puts the 'C' in Liberal Arts? 'We Do!' (ABC Religion Report 12/5/04)

9 Aug 2004