Universities launch new report card on western Sydney

The Universities of Sydney and Western Sydney release recommendations on developing an education, health and research global centre of excellence, through their Vision for the Greater Parramatta and Olympic Peninsula (GPOP).

For the first time, the Universities of Sydney and Western Sydney have produced a report card and joint vision for western Sydney that reveals how the region can become one of the state’s most important incubators for future jobs and higher education.

Launching the vision this morning for the Greater Parramatta and Olympic Peninsula (GPOP) - linking Parramatta-Westmead with the Aerotropolis - the Vice-Chancellors were joined by Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney Stuart Ayres MP, the Greater Sydney Commission and the Western Sydney Business Chamber.

Both universities commissioned the report card to identify how the region is faring and how best to leverage the area’s expected population boom with jobs, innovation and transport. Over the next 30 years, the largest population increases in NSW will be seen in western Sydney.

Highlights include

  • More than $10 billion in public and private investment expected to be delivered within the GPOP area in the next 5 to 10 years;
  • Parramatta is forecast to almost double its economic growth rate to 4.6 per cent in the next three years - that’s 70 per cent more forecast population growth than the Eastern Harbour City;
  • GPOP is experiencing a 7.1 per cent increase in the proportion of tertiary qualification holders since 2011. This far outstrips the rest of Sydney (3.4 per cent), NSW (3.0 per cent) or Australia (4.3 per cent). This trend is particularly visible in Westmead, where there has been an 8.6 per cent increase in tertiary qualification holders;
  • The Westmead Health and Education Precinct is attracting globally competitive talent and jobs. This precinct alone currently produces $1.9 billion of economic output, expected to increase to $2.8 billion by 2036.


The report card notes that while the growth of the region is impressive there are issues that need to be addressed included the need for more local infrastructure and active transport, better collaboration between all three levels of government and industry and a renewed focus on commercialisation to attract and engage a wider range of private companies.

University of Sydney Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Dr Michael Spence AC, said there was no doubt that greater western Sydney held great promise as an innovation district.

"Western Sydney is a place that’s already producing world-leading scientists, research and successful collaborations with industry so it’s no coincidence that we’re investing $500 million to establish our second major campus at Parramatta-Westmead. This will be a place where our students and researchers will use automation and innovation to solve real world problems and where the jobs of the future will be created," Dr Spence said.

Western Sydney University Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Barney Glover AO, said that for more than 30 years, Western Sydney University had been committed to transforming the region through world-class research and teaching.

"This region-shaping alliance with the University of Sydney leverages the strengths of both institutions, delivering the higher education, economic and employment opportunities that an area of this significance deserves," said Professor Glover.
 
David Borger, Executive Director of the Western Sydney Business Chamber said the delivery of major transport infrastructure such as Sydney Metro West and Parramatta Light Rail Stage 2 was crucial to the GPOP region reaching its full potential.

"These two major universities have made significant investments in the educational future of Greater Western Sydney but the full potential of our people will only be unlocked with better connectivity to job centres through projects such as Sydney Metro West and Parramatta Light Rail Stage 2," he concluded.

Report card summary

Big-ticket items on track 

  • Transport infrastructure: benefitting from significant investments of the NSW Government.
  • Economic fundamentals: are strong, as more organisations and businesses move to GPOP, and developers and planners seek to enable them.

Areas for improvement, not major investments

  • Local built infrastructure: needs more walkable precincts and active transport corridors. Does not yet effectively cater for start-up communities.
  • Amenity and quality of life: more work required to ensure that the region attracts and retains talent.
  • Collaboration and governance: if improved across the whole of GPOP, could provide a shared vision for the future, supporting business attraction.
  • Research and development: although strong and growing, more needs to be done to strengthen commercialisation, requiring new approaches to attract and engage a wider range of private companies.



The scorecard also found that skill formation in GPOP is strong, based on the significant investments from the University of Sydney and Western Sydney University.

  • As the geographic and demographic centre of Sydney and core of the Greater Sydney Commission’s, Metropolis of Three Cities, GPOP will play an important role in connecting all parts of Sydney
  • The newly designated ’priority growth area’ is undergoing extensive transformation; more than $10 billion in public and private investment is expected to be delivered within GPOP in the next 5 to 10 years.
  • Parramatta already hosts approximately 30 per cent of Australia’s top 100 businesses.


  • GPOP is on its way to becoming Greater Sydney’s economic catalyst, through the uplift provided by Westmead, Parramatta Central Business District (CBD) and Olympic Park. The region has a young, diverse and educated workforce, which leverages a broad international network to innovate more effectively.
  • Parramatta is forecast to almost double its economic growth rate to 4.6 per cent in the next three years. The Central River City has 70 per cent more forecast population growth than the Eastern Harbour City.
  • By 2026, it is expected that approximately 28,000 people will use the light rail service every day and an estimated 130,000 people will be living within walking distance of the light rail stops; the largest cohort of commuters on the route will be students and staff of GPOP’s university and health related entities.


  • The Sydney Metro is Australia’s biggest public transport project. Sydney Metro Northwest opened in mid-2019, with Sydney-Southwest slated for 2024. The Sydney Metro West, linking Sydney CBD to Olympic Park, Parramatta and Westmead, is expected to open in the second half of the 2020s. This line will cut travel times between Parramatta and Sydney CBD to 20 minutes.
  • As Sydney’s second city, the Central River City is the largest and nearest growth opportunity in NSW. It will be the fastest growing Sydney district over the next 20 years, with projections show demand for an additional 207,500 dwellings in the area.


  • GPOP is experiencing a 7.1 per cent increase in the proportion of tertiary qualification holders since 2011. This far outstrips the rest of Sydney (3.4 per cent), NSW (3.0 per cent) or Australia (4.3 per cent). This trend is particularly visible in Westmead, where there has been an 8.6 per cent increase in tertiary qualification holders.
  • The Westmead Health and Education Precinct is particularly important as it can differentiate GPOP on the global scale, attracting globally competitive talent and jobs. This precinct alone currently produces $1.9 billion of economic output, expected to increase to $2.8 billion by 2036.



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