Friday, October 30, 2009

Research at CQU

It’s been a big week for CQUniversity Research with more than $2.2 million dollars in new research funding awarded and the University acknowledged as among the best worldwide research institutions. A global report on research performance, collaboration and impact (by Spanish-based SCIMAGO) puts CQUniversity at 24th in Australia and 672nd in the world (or within the top 10% of universities world-wide).

CQUniversity will receive more than $1.8m in new funding for health and medical research. $896 000 from the National Health and Medical Research Council, announced today by Minister for Health & Aging Nicola Roxson, will enable researchers at the university to contribute to the Government’s health reform agenda to improve the health of all Australians. Lead researcher Professor Kerry Mummery will look at internet based programs that have the potential to reach large numbers of people to promote physical activity, and will assess program effectiveness. I’m told more than half of Australians do not get enough exercise. (I suspect I’m one of them.)

In addition, $949 000 was awarded by the Australian Research Council (ARC) for three other projects led by CQUniversity:

$479,000 for research on children’s health and mobility

$250,000 for industrial network-based control systems

$220,000 for research on internet crime and terrorism and tracing the real source of Internet attacks to enable Australian governments to identify, locate, and punish criminals

The University is also a collaborator with other universities on two projects funded by ARC Linkage grants:

$159,106 (with Deakin University) to research defences again botnets, devastating malicious software widely utilised by Internet criminals and terrorists to bring down information infrastructure. Control of such attacks is critical to the nation’s security, long-term survival and prosperity.

$235 000 (with Griffith University) for research on children’s independent mobility, physical activity levels and social interaction especially when they travel to and from school

The ranking and the funding demonstrate that CQUniversity’s applied research has a concentration of excellence in the health sciences and information technology (CQUniversity’ s other key areas are natural resources and international education).

When Senator Kim Carr -- Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research -- and I met and talked last week we discussed CQUniversity’s partnerships with other universities, including research-intensive universities, and CQUniversity’s reputation for engaging with business and industry to conduct research that has an immediate impact on our communities and others around the world.

From rail safety and load bearing, to inner-ear infections and the health of the Great Barrier Reef, to cardiac monitoring and the sweetness of locally-grown fruit, CQUniversity’s applied research is delivering benefits to people on a local (and global) scale from activities undertaken in Rockhampton, Bundaberg, Gladstone and Mackay and throughout Central Queensland.

The impact of Central Queensland-based research is significant, as well, for all of Australia. It is why, for example, we conduct research on sleep deprivation and road safety; the Fitzroy catchment (the second largest in the country); biofuel which can be extracted from plants that thrive in tropical Australia; and projects, like Professor Mummery’s, on children’s health.

Compared to universities such as Melbourne or the ANU, the size and funding of our research is relatively small. Nonetheless, CQUniversity research is recognised among the best. Leading in areas where in which we are excellent and lending our expertise to partnerships with other universities, CQUniversity will continue its contribution to Australia’s target of doubling collaboration between Australian businesses, universities and publicly funded research agencies over the next decade.

The flow of knowledge among industry, researchers, government and the community is crucial to CQUniversity’s development. Increased connectivity and collaboration with partners will boost our research intensity and give us wider access to facilities and experts across the country – and that means better service and results, for Australia and Central Queensland.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Canberra and Christmas

I had an interesting week last week with a trip to Canberra to meet some of the politicians and senior officials who are in charge of Australia’s higher education system. I’m grateful to Kirsten Livermore, our local Member of Parliament in Rockhampton, who did a fantastic job coordinating and making those meetings happen.

I had the good fortune to meet with Minister Julia Gillard, Senator Kim Carr and also with Minister Warren Snowdon. I also met with senior officials from DEEWR and the Department of Health. Overall these people were very supportive of the direction we are taking the University but also noted the challenges that we face as we move forward.

I think those decision-makers were pleased to hear that we have a clear vision for CQUniversity and a path to get to that vision over the coming years,

On Tuesday I briefed Premier of Victoria, John Brumby, on our operations in Melbourne. The fact that our University runs over three states and has significant operations in three capital cities makes my job incredibly interesting….

Soon after Christmas I hope to have started a staff climate survey at the University. One of my objectives is to make CQUniversity an employer of choice. I really need to know how people are feeling about the institution and how we can do things to improve the lot of our staff. I really hope that we get good participation in the survey. One of the things that I am sure the surveys will highlight is concerns about recognition of staff achievements. I know that this is an issue in most Universities and it is one which people have raised with me at CQUniversity. I think all of us in the University have a responsibility to recognise the achievements of others. Those of us in leadership positions have a responsibility to recognise the hard work that people are doing and particularly the extra work that people are putting in to make the student experience of the University more positive. But it is not just for those in leadership positions to recognise the work of others. We all need to make it a point to comment on the achievements of others and I think this will go a long way to improving the culture within the University. I am very keen to look at how we can recognise and reward good service to the University.

Christmas is a time that has massive impact on the University. I think all of us now are talking in terms of doing things before Christmas or post Christmas. I think Christmas creates a sense of urgency in the University but this sense of urgency is one that we need to keep up for the next two or three years. It is absolutely imperative that we recruit more students for the University as we are not filling our Commonwealth Funded Load and hence are being paid for students that we do not have in the University. With the introduction of demand led funding in 2012 this situation will cease and we will lose significant income to the University. Hence by 2012 we must have another 500 full time equivalent students in the University. This is not a want it is a need!
We’ll achieve this together by recruiting more students and retaining the students that we have and I am looking forward to working with you all over the next couple of years to make these numbers reality.

Christmas is also a time to celebrate and I am very grateful to staff who have decided to organise a Christmas Ball this year and also a Children’s Christmas Party, I think these will be great events which will celebrate the end of a very challenging year. You would have received a short email about this last week, with more details to follow. I hope you will be able to attend these events.


Friday, October 23, 2009

Staff recognition

I recently received an email and had a conversation with staff member Sue Praed about staff recognition and thought I’d share with you Susan’s remarks. Staff recognition is a subject that I’ve been discussing with others and I hope that before Christmas we can conduct a CQUniversity staff climate survey which will tell us a lot about they way people feel about the uni. I expect “recognition” will be a factor – it is in just about every other university!
I think Sue’s comments are very worthwhile.
(And Tim [see email below], – sounds like you are getting this right – WELL DONE. I hope you will be able to bring your experience to the CQUniversity Senior Leadership Conference next month.)


Here are Sue’s remarks:

From: Susan Praed
Sent: Thursday, 22 October 2009 2:59 PM
To: Vice Chancellor - CQUniversitySubject:
Staff Recognition Program

Dear Scott,

Let me briefly introduce myself to you. My name is Sue Praed and I am currently EA to the Head of School, Computing Sciences, Tim Roberts. I have been employed at CQUniversity now for the past 9 years. During this time, I have worked at Bundaberg Campus in Administration, STEPS and Student Services, relieved staff when on leave in Informatics & Communication and Business and Law.

Since commencing in this role in April 2009, I have been wanting to put forward an idea to recognise staff for different reasons. This may have already been suggested to you, my apologies if it has, but I would like to continue just in case it hasn’t.

Prior attempts have always been met with, we don’t have the faculty funds/budget to do such things for our employees because the policy doesn’t allow expenditure for such items. My initial request was for small gifts of appreciation, ie. Christmas cards for the school staff, random free goods, ie. coffee vouchers, book vouchers, free donuts and or other small gifts that can brighten peoples days. Additionally, a recognition email, perhaps once a month recognising long hours, good work or dedication to a particular task/job, either individual or group. In the School of Computing Sciences, I have adopted birthday emails to staff from our school and recognise years of service via email when they occur. Tim sent all school staff a Christmas Card for the first time in 08 and he continually recognises staff in his school and has built great rapport with them. They are very lucky to have him as their supervisor. It sounds simple, but it’s effective, they do say it’s the small things that count. I often reflect back to my days with BHP, where HR was very active in recognising employees for 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 years service etc, with medallions, engraved pens, party to the value of X and a gold watch.

I have bounced ideas around with a few staff here and our Head of School, but now would like your thoughts on perhaps expanding this suggestion to the next level. I regularly get information emailed to me from Red Balloon, a company that specialises in giving pleasure and ultimately impacting employees of large and small organisations. If you have time, some articles can be found at I believe these good news stories currently meet with your goals and visions for the future.

Seeing the damaging and prolonged effects that low morale can have on people saddens me. Over the years, staff have really been hit hard due to numerous restructures/changes etc. It is important to the development of staff that they feel appreciated in their work. This in turn, increases morale, productivity and most importantly, collegial relationships. With you on board, what a perfect time to build on boosting morale by instigating an employee recognition program here at CQUniversity. We’ll have everyone wanting to work at the best regional university in Australia!

Thanks for your time in this Scott,

Kind regards,

Susan Praed
Administrative Officer (School Operations)
School of Computing Sciences
Faculty of Arts, Business, Informatics & Education

Friday, October 16, 2009


Ever been audited? You usually don’t get much advance notice and you’re left with a sinking feeling in your stomach.

Universities all over Australia get audited regularly all the time. We generally do get notified early, but that does little to dispel the butterflies.

A year from now CQUniversity will host auditors from the Australian Universities Quality Agency (AUQA) for our second review. We’re told they’ll be interested in discussing two things during their scheduled visit: our Learning & Teaching quality and Internationalisation.

So, why the butterflies? There’s good reason. If an organization doesn’t measure up against standards it risks losing its accreditation. Even if the outcomes are mixed and a University is commended for doing most things well (CQUniversity was invited in 2006 to submit six entries to AUQA’s database of good practice, the second highest number of entries from among all Australian universities), other conclusions and recommendations made in an AUQA report can be damaging to a university’s reputation.

At CQUniversity we are open and transparent about our programs and services. I’m sure we’ll learn a lot from the Audit about how well, or not, we are doing in meeting our goals and servicing our students and other customers.

The upcoming Audit couldn’t come at a better time for CQUniversity, following restructures and the purchase of CMS and ongoing work throughout the organisation that is making us the most engaged university in Australia.

AUQA is not about rankings or ratings and the auditors don’t give out gold stars. They’re interested in establishing just how universities are meeting their goals, how effectively they gather information to measure progress, and how efficiently they are at identifying and addressing the issues that sometimes get in the way of achieving those goals. In addition, auditors verify that all institutions meet relevant legislated requirements and standards. The Audit team defines quality as “fitness for purpose” and they will assess CQUniversity procedures, policies, and processes.

In context of our preparations for upcoming Audit we run the risk, however, of becoming easily distracted. Let’s not lose sight of issues that resonate with our students in our communities: quality and excellence, real choice and diversity, university autonomy and academic integrity. These are the issues at the core of CQUniversity’s Strategic and Renewal Plans.

Over the next 10 to 12 months we are going to work together on the Audit preparations, not a stand-alone separate “get ready” exercise, but as part of our ongoing commitment to improvement and making CQUniversity even better. Remember we’re going to be one of Australia’s ‘great’ universities in ten years!

Whether you are a professional or academic staff member, a domestic or international student or a community stakeholder, your input to the Audit preparations and the Audit itself is vital.

The Corporate Projects Office staff will coordinate many opportunities for you to participate. Please do so.

In the meantime, re-read the Renewal Plan and the Strategic Plan. Familiarise yourself with University policy.

Most importantly, however, remember as you prepare what’s really crucial is that we look at the University’s long-term future, and the journey of renewal on which we’ve embarked. Think of the Audit simply as a useful and powerful tool that we can use to help transform CQUniversity. It is also a chance for us to show off what is great about our University.

By the way this picture is me with the cast of Bumpy Angels – a production put on by the Bachelor of Performing Arts. I really enjoyed their performances this year. This is yet another example of how we engage with our community to help cultural development.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Access and social inclusion

I mentioned at Academic Board this week that Access is to us what Research is to the ANU. Access and social inclusion is where we excel. About 43% of our students come from low social economic backgrounds. Think about that for a moment 43%! No other university in Australia does better. The Rudd Government has a target of getting 20% of university enrolments from low social economic groups by 2025 – we are already over double that target. It is fantastic that we have a Government that is encouraging the type of higher education that we do so well.

Minister Julia Gillard really seems to understand the importance of social inclusion and the dramatic impact that higher education can have on people’s lives. The Department of Education Employment and Work Relations (DEEWR) are doing a good job in linking higher education, workforce issues and higher education. We will get an opportunity to show how we can contribute to this later in the year when we start to put our Compact document together.

We have just gone through a round of graduations and awards ceremonies. For me these are the best part of the year. I enjoy the ceremonies – which we do very well – but for me the best part is meeting with the students and their families afterwards. Many of the families that I meet have had no contact with a university in the past. The level of pride is incredible. My family background is very similar to many of families that I meet – so I understand the pleasure and impact that graduations have!

This week I also went to an awards ceremony in the local correctional facility. Most of you in Rockhampton will know that this is a maximum security prison. The ceremony was very moving. The students we gave awards to were just so proud to have achieved so much under such difficult circumstances. Some of the students had completed our TEP (Tertiary Entrance Program) course; others where part way through their degree. The TEP program includes first year degree subjects. The only difference between the TEP subjects and the degree subjects is that the TEP students are allowed to re-submit their assignments. One student had re-submitted an assignment 5 times before getting a pass mark! This shows three things: his determination, his achievement to finally pass and our resolve not to lower standards.

It was a little strange to be in a maximum security prison discussing poetry metaphors with one of our graduates – but that is the kind of university that we are. It is also interesting to note that we have students in just about every major correctional facility in Australia. Much of this success is due to the hard work of the staff in Nulloo Yumbah, CQUniversity's Indigenous Learning, Spirituality and Research Centre.

The longer I am at the university, the more impressed I am by our staff. What you achieve is second to none. You know I have an aspiration to make this one of Australia’s “great” universities in ten years – in many areas we are already there!