A “finance lab” designed to improve the financial literacy of school and university students and the community has opened at the University of Newcastle’s city campus NeW Space.
Tony Travaglione, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Faculty of Business and Law, said the move by the University and Greater Bank to partner on the project was groundbreaking: “While we have examples throughout the world, there is no business school in Australia that is doing this,” he said.
Mr Travaglione said the lab’s mission struck personally as a father of three “very intelligent, university-educated daughters” in their 20s.
“Their financial literacy was lacking so I thought … what we have to do as an institution and community is educate people better on financial literacy,” he said.
Mr Travaglione said many Australians worked hard but did not reach “where they should be” during their lives or in retirement because of a lack of nous of how to maximise their earnings.
While the banking royal commission exposed woeful behaviour of finance industry players, the flipside was just as telling: “Everyone says we need to change the culture of these institutions but noone has said we need to educate customers better so if an institute is not doing the right thing they know what the alternatives are,” he said.
The Greater Finance Lab is a dedicated teaching space equipped with 20 computers, an interactive environment designed to promote learning in effective decision making, economic systems, monetary markets and financial literacy.
The lab will enable Newcastle Business School students to build their skills before they graduate but is also open to general students to build their financial literacy.
It will also operate in other guises: the Greater Finance Academy will offer a financial literacy outreach program to high schools in the Hunter, Central Coast and regional NSW; and the Greater Finance Clinic will offer financial literacy outreach programs at NeW Space for the community.
Greater Bank CEO Scott Morgan said the “industry first” lab would benefit the university and community.