UNSW is supporting a new national effort to increase the supply of high quality mining engineer graduates in the midst of Australia's mining and minerals boom.
Mining Education Australia is a new national facility established by UNSW, Curtin and Queensland Universities to grow the supply of mining graduates for Australia's booming mining sector. It officially opened last week.
Established with financial support from the Minerals Council of Australia and the federal government, MEA provides a common national curriculum to third and fourth-year mining education students. It integrates teaching and research resources from Australia's premier mining engineering universities into one program within a "virtual" national mining education institution.
"With the shortage in the availability of skilled workers in Australia's booming resource sector, Mining Education Australia is a strategic response to ensure that industry has access to adequate numbers of high quality graduates," says Professor Hebblewhite, who is Executive Director of MEA and head of UNSW's School of Mining Engineering.
MEA will help to grow undergraduate numbers in mining engineering by also establishing an "Associate" program with other tertiary education providers, enabling first and second-year students at these universities to transfer to MEA in their third year. These students can transfer into the MEA program from other undergraduate programs, such as civil engineering.
"Contrary to some media reports, enrolments in mining engineering have never been higher and have risen consistently in the past three years," says Professor Hebblewhite. "Across the three MEA universities (UNSW, Curtin and University of Queensland) there are 127 students studying third-year mining engineering in the first year that MEA has commenced teaching the national program.
"First and second-year student enrolments show even more significant growth. At UNSW alone, there are 63 students in first year compared to only 30 three years ago. MEA nationally expects to be graduating at least 180 mining engineers per year within three to five years, compared with only 68 in 2006."