A new Diploma of Health Sciences will be offered for the first time in Mildura in 2021, enabling  eligible students to move seamlessly into degrees in nursing, health science and social work upon completion.

The University will also introduce online offerings of most of its psychology courses, making them available for the first time to Mildura students – both school-leavers, and those returning to study.

La Trobe Vice-Chancellor Professor John Dewar AO said as regional communities begin recovering from the pandemic, building a strong rural health workforce is a priority for the University.

“More than ever, regional Australia needs experts in frontline and mental health, who deeply understand the issues facing regional communities, and the local services available to help people recover.

“Our new Diploma of Health Sciences will appeal to Year 12s and non-school-leavers who want to undertake university study in a health discipline, but perhaps don’t meet the entry requirements for one of our Bachelor programs,” Professor Dewar said.

“And by introducing online offerings of most of our psychology courses, more regional students will be able to become registered psychologists, bringing their new knowledge and experience back to their local communities.

”Under the plan the Mildura campus will continue to offer courses addressing strong rural workforce need – including nursing, social work and education – as well as popular courses across arts, business and IT.

Professor Dewar said the delivery mode of some courses will change in response to market desire for greater choice and flexibility.

“Some disciplines will move to a mixed-mode approach – with some content delivered online, some on-campus – and other courses will be available entirely online,” Professor Dewar said.

“We’ve been receiving positive feedback from students on our innovative and engaging approach to online learning.

“If we can provide students greater flexibility and choice in how, when and where they study, and this entices more students from across the country to commit to higher education – including in rural and regional areas – then we have achieved an important part of our mission,” Professor Dewar said.

Professor Dewar said the University’s new Regional Connect program will make online study at La Trobe more attractive for students living within commuting distance of the Mildura campus.

“The University has a wide range of unique, high-quality courses available fully online, that appeal to regional students – such as the Bachelor of Applied Cloud Technology, Master of Mental Health and Master of Nursing (Nurse Practitioner),” Professor Dewar said.

“Regional Connect gives students access to fellow students, networking opportunities, events, placements and project partners – as well as a vibrant campus experience, with all the services, facilities and social events valued by regional students.

“So, whether studying online, face-to-face, or a mixture of both, our students will continue to reap the benefits of regional study,” Professor Dewar said.

As part of the plan, La Trobe is also committed to working in closer partnership with SuniTAFE to ensure students have seamless pathways between vocational and higher education in areas of student demand and workforce need.La Trobe developed individual campus plans as part of its reset strategy which responds to significant financial challenges caused by COVID-19.