Friday, December 23, 2016

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

This time every year I reflect on the impact and achievements of CQUniversity over the preceding 12 months and think to myself, “how on earth can we possibly top that next year?”  And yet somehow we do, year-on-year, with 2016 being no different. We have gone even bigger and better in just about every aspect of the University in 2016, and it is amazing to think that next year we will somehow find a way to top it. I’ve come to realise that this is who we are now – this is what a great university does. A continuous drive for improvement and impact and all the necessary components working together to make good things happen. I think that we should all be proud of how this is playing out in the lives of our graduates, and the impact it is having on our communities. Especially this year. I won’t list the dozens of achievements from the year instead, I encourage you to watch this short video that captures them all. 

Thank you to everyone who has been involved in CQUni's success this year. I very much look forward to working with you all again in 2017.

A very Merry Christmas, and safe and happy New Year to you all!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

First blog in quite some time

I’ve only just returned to the office after three months off on long service leave, so I thought it was high time that I get back to my blog. Anita and I had a brilliant time travelling across Australia in the first few weeks, before travelling to Europe and Africa. It was a great experience to be able to unwind like that and I am very fortunate to have had the opportunity.

Anita and I trying to figure out which direction Rockhampton is

While I was away our Provost Hilary Winchester took over as VC and unsurprisingly did a fantastic job. I knew I wouldn’t have to worry about work when the Uni was in Hilary’s capable hands. Sadly though, Hilary finished up at the University following my return and will now embark on the next phase of her career doing consultancy work within the higher ed sector. Hilary will relocate back to Adelaide and will be missed by all here at CQUni. We certainly owe a great deal of thanks to Hilary for her leadership and vision.

Hilary (centre right) with some of our Townsville campus staff

Since returning I have definitely hit the ground running, travelling to Melbourne during the first week, followed by north Queensland and Sydney this week. It’s great to see so much happening and so many of our projects coming to fruition.

I also had the chance to meet with student leaders at the student leadership conference in Brisbane last week

Some of the highlights include the opening of our new state-of-the-art research labs at the Central Queensland Innovation and Research Precinct (CQIRP), the signing of the lease for our new campus in the Perth CBD, the signing of an MOU to deliver our ag program out of the Rural Industries Skills Training (RIST) in Hamilton Victoria, addition of creative and performing arts programs to our Cairns campus and the rapid construction of the next phase of our Townsville campus.

Construction of the second stage of our Townsville campus si moving ahead at a rapid pace

We have also been fortunate enough to see our people win numerous awards and to top it all off we improved our world university ranking with Times Higher Education, appearing in the top 500 bracket.

It sure is great to be back and I look forward to updating you about more of our exciting initiatives, including our growing social innovation agenda. There may only be a few weeks until Christmas but there is certainly no slowing down at CQUni!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Governments must fund regional powerhouses

About this time last year I wrote an opinion piece about the value of regional Australia and the need for governments at all levels to back these communities and the industries that support them.

For far too long our regional cities have suffered at the expense of their metropolitan cousins – losing out on much needed funding that would bring about community and industry re-invigoration and create much needed jobs. This is despite the fact that for the last decade a large percentage of the Nation’s GDP has in fact come straight out of our regions – most notably from mining and agriculture.

Now we find ourselves in the situation where the resources boom has reached its inevitable wind-down and what does regional Australia – in particular central Queensland (where much of this activity occurred) have to show for it? Well not a lot really. There have been relatively few upgrades to infrastructure, no boost to industries outside of mining, our hospitals are still lagging behind and participation in higher education among regional students is still behind that of students who grew up in the city. This is simply just not good enough and it is high-time that our politicians started to realise the potential and worth of our regions and the people who call these communities home.

Residents of regional Australia also need to make a stand and demand a better deal - Just like I said last year - As the resources boom slows, there has never been a more important time for regional economies to back themselves and look at new ways to diversify growth in other sectors. We will seal our own fate if we let our confidence waver.

For the past two weeks, I have been making a stand with CQUniversity’s Chancellor, Mr John Abbott to lobby for a better deal for the Gladstone community by highlighting the critical need for better investment in the City’s trade training facilities.

We have put forward plans for a $16.4 million redevelopment project proposal which the University hopes will get support from both sides of government, at all levels.

Stage 1 and 2 of the proposal includes a state-of-the-art TAFE Trades Training Centre, hair and beauty salon and modern hospitality training centre that would include a commercial kitchen and restaurant, at the Gladstone Marina Campus.

A Stage 3 proposal has also been put forward to develop an advanced Community Health Precinct that specialises in health training and the delivery of allied and public health services, as well as an aged care facility, located at the existing Gladstone City Campus in Derby Street (former CQ TAFE campus).

Should we be successful in attracting a funding commitment, the projects would lead to a new era in the delivery of education and training in Gladstone and create new jobs in the process. Combined with the location of Gladstone and its access to a world-class port the region would be in a prime position to provide education, training and research to support industries like agriculture, tourism and hospitality.

The Gladstone community both needs and deserves this investment in its future. Gladstone has been a powerhouse that has contributed to the national economy exponentially over the years yet the trade and vocational facilities inherited from the Queensland State Government following the merger between CQUniversity and CQ TAFE are below adequate. When you compare the facilities with those of the trades training centres in Brisbane the difference shows just how disproportionate funding in regional education and industry has been over the years.

It’s time to change this and I believe that expansion of CQUniversity’s operations at the Gladstone Marina campus would be a positive thing for this important region going forward and I hope that our politicians will commit to supporting this project and the local community by making it a reality. Our kids, our businesses and our future deserve much better. 

Friday, May 20, 2016

Uni Experience and a chance meeting with the PM

Hundreds of students this week got a taste of CQUni life at University Experience events held across our campus network. 

The events give students in Year 12 the opportunity to visit one of our campuses, find out what uni life is all about, talk to staff and current students, and participate in activities that will prepare them for study. 

The events are a great way to prepare our future students and to help those who are still unsure about what to do after school, make a decision about their future. I'm told a lot of fun was had by all and that the students this year were full of questions about post-school education and training options in their local regions. Congratulations to our marketing team for hosting these events and helping these students with their decision-making. 

Students in Townsville also managed to get a little a little bit extra out of their uni experience day, when they bumped into our Prime Minister outside the CQUni Townsville campus, stopping him for a quick selfie and a chat while he was out and about on the campaign trail.

Friday, May 6, 2016

CQUni Melbourne campus a shining light of social innovation

I'm very proud of our Melbourne campus this week for hosting an extremely successful event, focusing on social innovation, as part of Melbourne Knowledge Week 2016. 

The public event allowed more than 100 aspiring social innovators to team up with and hear from socially innovative organisations including Engineers Without Borders, social enterprise developers Social Traders, and the School for Social Entrepreneurs.

The key purpose of the event was to challenge attendees to identify opportunities to create innovation and change in their world by giving them practical advice and frameworks to make a difference.

Participants also heard inspiring accounts of real-life social change from presenters Dr Andrew Ingham (School for Social Entrepreneurs), Mark Daniels (Social Traders) and Jane Hadjion (Engineers Without Borders).

The session also involved an interactive brainstorming session that saw participants tackle four big issues including asylum seekers, public health, the environment and education, by developing and delivering four big ideas for each. 

CQUniversity is a university that is truly is setting the agenda for social innovation in education, with core values to empower its students, staff and communities to drive positive change.  And, our Melbourne campus is certainly leading the way when it comes to engaging our community. 

We'll see more great events like this going forward, both at our Melbourne campus and at other campuses around our national footprint. In particular, there will be an event held at the Melbourne campus on 17 May, 2016 that will look into homelessness within the city. 

The event 'Sleeping on the streets of the world's most liveable city' will look at why more and more people are sleeping rough on Melbourne's streets. The session will also explore what types of simple and effective strategies may be implemented to by every member of the community to alleviate this situation. 

This event is free to attend and open to the public. For more on this event and others like it make sure you keep an eye on our events calendar on the CQUni webpage

Friday, April 29, 2016

DIY Power Tool Dangers

It was great to read this story (Research into D-I-Y accidents finds power tool users need better safety training) in UniNews yesterday. Not only was it a fascinating story about an even more fascinating research project but it shows how staff from our vocational and higher education areas have come together to work on education and research projects. 

In this instance, CQUniversity Metal Fabrication Teacher Gary Balderson and Dean of the School of Education and the Arts, Dr Bill Blayney, looked at the connection between the rise of Do-It-Yourself related injuries and product awareness. Something that I think is relevant to many people who aim to tackle projects around the home - and something that many Queenslanders will be doing as we approach a long weekend this week. 

The uptake of Do It Yourself (DIY) home renovations has rapidly increased across Australia with a subsequent increase in injury rates.  Currently, there is no requirement by suppliers to provide product awareness training for hobbyist/DIY consumers. There is growing concern about the impact of injury to the health and well-being of the individual and also the negative financial issues that impact on the community. In fact, the survey found two-thirds of the respondents were reading the instructions, but only 40% understood what they were reading!

This type of research is important and practical and is a great example of a comprehensive university like CQUniversity in action. It's great hearing about these projects and I really look forward to witnessing more examples of our VET and higher ed staff and students working together like this in the future. 

Friday, April 22, 2016

CQUni and Taipans continue partnership

I was delighted to announce today that CQUniversity would be extending its partnership, as naming rights sponsor of the Cairns Taipans for another three years. 

CQUniversity has partnered with the Taipans for four years now, first as a Taipans Academy supporter and then as naming rights sponsor from 2014. In fact, In CQUni's first year as the club’s major sponsor, the Snakes claimed their first minor premiership in NBL history. At the same time, CQUniversity was also expanding its presence in the Cairns region by announcing plans to extend the distance education study centre to a full campus. 

Our partnership with the Taipans brings with it many opportunities for community engagement and also allows us to deliver players and academy members with pathways into study. Importantly our sponsorship allows us to support the Taipans’ Indigenous Program, driven by former NBL player Kerry Williams.

Another fantastic part of our partnership moving forward is that there is a chance for up to three Taipans players and two support staff to gain a scholarship to study with us and there is solid potential for a PhD research student to be embedded with the club.

I am really proud of this partnership and firmly believe that we will see more and more community benefit emerge as a result. I can't wait for the new season to start later this year. Go Snakes!