Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Quality control

You may have seen the comment regarding ‘quality control’ posted in response to my previous Blog – Leaps and Bounds.

Firstly, CQUniversity is a medium size university and secondly, you ask a very good question – how do we ensure quality control with such a rapid expansion?

These new programs have not just appeared overnight. A huge amount of effort by a large number of staff has gone into making these new programs a reality.

The establishment of positions such as the DVC(Development), PVC(Learning & Teaching) and Deans of School have been introduced over the past 12 months or so to drive the development and quality of these – and indeed all – of our programs. All programs undergo official CQUniversity academic approval processes and in a lot of cases, external professional body accreditation.

Most of our new programs are developed in consultation with peak industry bodies – for example, the Bachelor of Paramedic Science was developed in consultation with Queensland Ambulance and will include clinical placements with the ambulance service. We are not doing this alone – research supports the need for new health and medical science programs in regional Queensland.

The AUQA Audit report released earlier this year acknowledged the actions taken by CQUniversity to improve the quality of teaching by addressing the functioning of academic governance structures, establishing the role of Dean of School with greater accountability, and setting up an Office of Learning and Teaching to centralise and coordinate learning and teaching functions under the leadership of the PVC(L&T).

I am proud to say that following last year’s audit, CQUniversity has been invited to submit four new entries into the AUQA Good Practice Database – which will make 10 entries in total – which is a collection of systems and activities that are relevant to quality assurance and good outcomes in Australasian higher education.

Professor Rob Reed, PVC (L&T) has also been leading a revised approach to student evaluation of courses and work related learning at CQUniversity as part of our on-going reflection and improvement on current practice.

CQUniversity’s new Learning and Teaching Quality policy will be presented at VCAC early next month and I look forward to sharing that will staff in the near future.

I admit there is some work yet to do in fostering a culture of reflective practice and enhancing a culture of continuous quality improvement – but we are definitely getting there.

I make no apology for moving quickly on ambitious reforms and a growth agenda. Today CQUniversity is one of the fastest growing Universities in Queensland. CQUniversity remains one of the top three Australian Universities operating in the International Student market and later this year CQUniversity will become Queensland’s first Dual-Sector University. As I said, I am immensely proud of the progress CQUniversity has made in recent times – I hope you are too.


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Leaps and bounds

I read the Australian Higher Education Review today and there was a line in an article that got me really fired up. I don’t expect many of you would have seen it – it really was just a throw away line in a story buried deep in the paper – but it reminded me that no matter how hard you try, no matter what you are able to achieve, there is always someone willing to drag you down.

The article was about trends in student numbers across the sector, and the line I took offense to went something like “...but not all universities are as well placed to expand. CQUniversity, X University and Y University lost student load from 2005 to 2009....”
I nearly spilt my Corn Flakes when I read that this morning. It really is an outdated, offensive and grossly mis-informed analysis of where CQUniversity is today.

Not well placed to expand? The truth is there is no University in Australia today that is better placed to expand than CQUniversity – anyone that has witnessed the unstoppable boom of the resource industry in Central Queensland can tell you that. CQUniversity is today benchmarking the way Universities capitalise on “the power of place”; engaging with the industries and communities from which our region derives its strengths. We enjoy a relationship with our stakeholders that is the envy of most Australian Universities.

Losing student load? CQUniversity’s student numbers have risen strongly in the past two years to the point where we are now one of the fastest growing Universities in Queensland. Our Mackay campus alone will be the fastest growing University campus in Australia this decade, with a 12% increase in enrolments this year, and a forecast tripling of student numbers in the next five years. CQUniversity introduced 20 new degrees this year, complimented by a $50 million investment in capital works. We remain one of the top three Australian Universities servicing the International Student market. And later this year CQUniversity will become Queensland’s first Dual-Sector University, with a planned amalgamation with TAFE that would effectively double the size of our operations.

CQUniversity has made some amazing leaps and bounds in recent times, of which I am immensely proud. Our transformation in the past two years has been truly remarkable. And I believe our best days are yet to come. So I’m not ashamed to say I take glib criticisms like the one in today’s paper quite personally. We’ve all worked too hard to turn this University around to attract this sort of “analysis”.

No doubt we will see more unfair media from time to time – all Universities do. But because of our efforts, because of our journey, because of our fight, this University more than any other has earned the right to be annoyed by this kind of media commentary.