Monday, December 21, 2015

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

It's one of my favourite times of the year again! Christmas is only a couple of sleeps away and it's time for a break with family and friends. As I wind down for the year it also gives me some time to reflect on what a busy and remarkable year it's been for the University.

While 2015's highlights have been countless, I’ve taken on the difficult challenge of creating a list of the best ten. I hope this shortlist provides you with an idea of the enormity of our national reach, and the impact we are having on students in all our local communities. In no particular order, my proudest highlights for CQUniversity during the year were:

  1. Three new campuses opened: $7.5 million CQUniversity Melbourne CBD campus, home to 1,400 students; $15 million CQUniversity Cairns campus at Cairns Square in heart of CBD, set to be home to 2,500 domestic and international students by 2020; and $3 million CQUniversity Townsville CBD campus, growing face-to-face programs including Paramedic Science, Nursing, Law, Education, and Psychology. With 35,000 students spread over 24 campus sites nation-wide, we are now the largest university based in regional Australia.
  2. CQUniversity also opened Stage Two of our $26 million Community Health Clinic in Rockhampton (a Federal and State Governments partnership which now provides hundreds of public health appointments each week and great learning experiences for our health students), and competed the $16.6 million Federally-funded Engineering Centre at our Mackay campus. More than $200 million has now been invested in capital works infrastructure across our campuses since 2009!
  3. A swathe of new training courses and degrees unveiled, including vocational and dual sector qualifications in Logistics, Tourism, Building and Construction and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, and higher degree programs including Australia’s newest and most hands-on Agriculture degree, a Bachelor of Cardiac Physiology, a Mechatronics stream in our popular Bachelor of Engineering, and Australia’s first trans-city MBA, which debuted at number 13 in Boss Magazine’s top 50 MBA list.
  4. The largest cohort of graduating students in our history, including our first-ever graduates in newer courses such as Speech Pathology and Oral Health, plus CQUniversity’s first vocational students to cross the floor at graduation ceremonies, and our first students to graduate from CQUniversity’s Study Centre in Geraldton, WA.
  5. Impressive grant success from the Australian Research Council (ARC), with funds for four CQUniversity projects giving us one of the highest overall success rates in the nation. Projects will look at computer scanning classification processes, rail safety teamwork, chicken gut health on poultry farms, and how shift workers can better manage sleep. We also expect to see a strong leap in our national research rankings when the ARC announces its latest data this month. 
  6. CQUniversity achieved its best-ever ratings in the Commonwealth Government’s periodic assessment of Australia research. Our 2015 Excellence in Research Australia results showed that CQU was conducting research rated as at/above/well above world standard in many areas including Mathematics, Psychology, Nursing, Agriculture & VET Science, Environmental Science, Engineering, Medical & Health Science, Artificial Intelligence, and Public Health & Health Services. These ratings reflect CQUniversity’s ever-growing commitment to research, with four new research centres opened in 2015; the Institute for Future Farming Systems, the Centre for Tourism and Regional Opportunity, the Centre for Railway Engineering, and the Centre for Intelligent and Networked Systems. CQUniversity also had a highly successful year in winning numerous highly competitive national research grants in key areas.
  7. For the first time, CQUniversity hosted WorldSkills Australia regional competitions, with hundreds of our apprentices, trainees and students competing in trade challenges, and many now going on to the national finals in 2016. We also had seven vocational students and one teacher named as regional finalists in the Queensland Training Awards, with five winning through to the state finals.
  8. The Commonwealth Government’s Quality Indicators for Learning & Teaching (QILT) 2015 rankings showed the nation that CQUniversity is streets ahead of most other universities – including the prestigious “Group of Eight” members – on important measures like full time graduate employment success, graduate median salaries, and student support.
  9. Our popular 10,000 Steps health and wellbeing initiative reached its 300,000-participant milestone, while also receiving a significant funding boost from the Queensland Government, meaning the 14-year old program will go on to boost the health of Australians for many years yet. 
  10. And saving the best till last, the prestigious Times Higher Education World Rankings this year placed CQUniversity in the Top 600 universities, putting us in the top 3 per cent of world universities!  I am very confident that our reputational trajectory will see us enter the top 500 in the next ranking.

Clearly, it’s been a busy 12 months, and one that’s featured great success across CQUniversity’s many and growing fields of specialty. The moment that made me most proud of being the Vice-Chancellor of this remarkable institution, however, was how the entire university community responded the devastation of Cyclone Marcia. This natural disaster took our main Rockhampton campuses offline for 10 days, and caused major disruptions to all 24 campuses with the “lights out” at HQ. The ingenuity and resourcefulness of our staff during this time was matched only by their selflessness, as many helped with the enormous campus clean-up (even while their own homes remained damaged), to ensure students commencing O-Week activities the following week could enjoy a positive term start.    

I hope everyone enjoys the upcoming break and spends some quality time with those dear to them. Please have a safe and Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


Friday, December 18, 2015

More great news for CQUni - or should I say our graduates?

Some more great news overnight that CQUniversity graduates are once again ahead of the pack when it comes to gaining full-time employment after completing their studies. In fact, CQUniversity degrees have been confirmed as among the most valuable in Australia, with the latest national data once again showing CQUniversity’s graduate employability well ahead of the national average.

CQUniversity bachelor degree graduates had an overall full-time employment rate of 79.6 per cent in 2014, more than 10 percentage points above the national average of just 68.8 per cent.

The new data from Graduate Careers Australia (GCA) looks at whether Australian graduates who completed their studies in 2014 had found full-time work within four months of completing their degree. 

CQUniversity always performs well in this survey but I actually think it's remarkable that for the past four years running CQUniversity's results have surpassed the national average by 10 percentage points or more! 

The results show that in particular, CQUniversity graduates in the fields of Building, Business Studies, Education and Health were comprehensively outperforming their counterparts at other universities.

A whopping 95 per cent of CQUniversity's Building graduates, across programs including Building Design, Construction Management, and Building Surveying, had found a full-time job in that timeframe – almost 15 percentage points ahead of the national average.

CQUniversity’s Education graduates were even further ahead of the field, with 92.7 percent of graduates landing a full-time job – more than 20 percentage points above of the national average. And our engineering graduates are still finding employment, at a very high rate, despite the recent downturn in the mining industry.

Area of study
National average
CQUni Employment rate
Electrical Engineering
Business Studies
Health (other)
Civil Engineering
Mechanical Engineering

CQUniversity has grown steadily to become the largest and fastest growing university based in regional Australia. We now have more students than at any other time in our history, and we are going to tremendous lengths to ensure they are among the most work-ready graduates in the nation.  

The latest data really validates what our communities have been telling us – that our massive investment in new course offerings and facilities in years gone by is having a positive effect on workforce skills shortages. We really are fueling our local economies by turning out large numbers of highly skilled, incredibly well sought-after graduates year after year. 

What's more these results sit in perfect harmony with other recently released national data from the Commonwealth’s Quality Indicators for Teaching and Learning which show CQUniversity in the top five Australian universities for graduate employment and median graduate salaries, and ahead of the large sandstone universities for student support. These results prove that CQUniversity is increasingly becoming known as a premier work-ready university.

It’s been a good year for CQUniversity (and our graduates)! 

Friday, December 4, 2015

CQUni Research excellence recognised in #ERA2015

It’s great to be able to finish not just the week bust so too the year on a very positive note for the University, following the release of the long-awaited 2015 Excellence in research Australia (ERA) results.

It is fantastic news for CQUniversity with findings showing that we are conducting research rated as at, above, or well above world standard across 14 different research categories.

This is a remarkable improvement from just five years ago when we attained this level in just three research categories. 

CQUniversity’s dramatic leap in research performance has been underpinned by our record investment in research facilities and personnel, innovative and engaged research strategy, and tremendous success in securing highly competitive national research grants.

These ERA results validate our sharp focus on research informed by industry and community collaboration. In fact, what we have seen with the three ERA assessments conducted over the past five years has been a consistent acceleration of CQUniversity’s research strengths in line with our focus on industry and community engagement.

These results show that we have established ourselves as research leaders in areas such as Psychology, Agriculture & Vet Science, Environmental Science, Mathematics, Nursing, Engineering, Medical & Health Science, Artificial Intelligence, and Public Health & Health Services. Having so many research areas recognised by the Commonwealth Government as above or well above world standard is a tremendous reward for the University and our many talented researchers.

Our results this year include:
·         5 in Mathematical Sciences
·         5 in Applied Mathematics
·         5 in Psychology and Cognitive Services
·         5 in Other Psychology and Cognitive Services
·         5 in Nursing
·         5 in Other Medical and Health Services
·         4 in Agriculture & Vet Sciences
·         4 in Environmental Sciences
·         4 in Medical & Health Sciences
·         4 in Environmental Science & Management
·         4 in Mechanical Engineering
·         3 in Artificial Intelligence & Image Processing
·         3 in Public Health and Health Services
·         3 in Engineering

These are absolutely fantastic results however we are only just getting started. Our research momentum has us firmly on a trajectory that will see us emerge as one of Australia’s truly great universities. And we plan to take our communities and industries along with us on this remarkable ride.

What’s more it also goes to show that excellent research doesn’t just happen in elite, metropolitan based universities. Excellent research is conducted in regional Australia, by great regional universities like CQUniversity.

I am incredibly proud of these remarkable results and commend everyone involved with research at CQUniversity who have worked so hard to achieve this excellent outcome. In particular Provost Hilary Winchester and Pro Vice-Chancellor Grant Stanley should be credited for their outstanding leadership and vision when it comes to the University’s research efforts.

I hope these results will inspire you as a student and that you’ll all join with me in celebrating these results and congratulating our researchers!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

#IDPWD – recognising our staff and students with disability

Today is the International Day of People with a Disability – an important day to recognise the strength and ability of those living with disability.

In particular I’d like to recognise the significant achievements and contribution our staff and students with a disability, make to this university and their communities. CQUniversity is known as an inclusive university because we understand that disability does not impact someone’s ability to study and be who they want to be. It’s because of this that CQUniversity has one of the highest ratios of students with a disability – something all of us at CQUniversity are very proud of.

Along with our staff and students with a disability who inspire us every day, we also have a fantastic team of accessibility support officers who work with our students to ensure the University is offering an inclusive and supportive learning environment. This is one of the key services our student success centres delivers and is vital component of the overall student experience.

Today and tomorrow the University’s Mackay campus will also be hosting the Queensland Disability Liaison Officer’s Conference. This event will bring together disability support experts from universities across Queensland, to share experiences, ideas and knowledge, with a view to bring about best practice and innovative service delivery.

In particular the conference’s theme ‘Exploring perspectives on responding to diversity’ will cover a range of discussions and topics including resources, apps and web tools for students with disability, how to provide support to students with disabilities and interactive sessions.

I look forward to finding out more about the learnings from this conference and continuing to work with our fantastic staff and students, to ensure CQUniversity maintains its position as an inclusive and accessible place to study and work. 

Sharing knowledge in Mackay

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

CQUni students have the big ideas

Some great news overnight, with a CQUniversity team once again winning the national Big Idea, social innovation competition, in the hotly contented postgraduate division.

This achievement means that a CQUniversity team has now been triumphant two years in a row (last year three undergraduate engineering students won for ‘The Shelter Project’).

The winning team this year was made up of Adelaide-based postgraduate students Elisha Vlaholias and Tessa Beneviste, their project was named The Garden of Earthly Delights.

The project, if taken to fruition, would see part of Adelaide’s Southern parklands transformed into a community garden that provides flexible and transitional employment, education and training for people experiencing homelessness. The project would be grounded in the ethics of permaculture, earth care, people care and fair share and would be associated with CQUni’s new permaculture program.

The Big Idea competition is co-ordinated by The Big Issue  - an independent, not-for-profit organisation that delivers solutions to help homeless, marginalised and disadvantaged people to positively change their lives. The Big Idea is a social enterprise planning competition for university students that seeks to find new social enterprise ideas that can deliver benefits to society both in Australia and abroad.

With social innovation being one of CQUniversity’s five pillars of greatness, this is extremely exciting news for the whole university, showing that we are not just a university that gives back but also a university that inspires our students to become change makers.

Congratulations to Elisha and Tessa on this fantastic achievement! Credit must also go to the many staff who coached them during the development and presentation of this project, in particular Melbourne Associate Vice-Chancellor Lara Carton who has been instrumental in getting CQUniversity involved with the Big Idea and working with our students to ensure their success.

To find out more about The Garden of Earthly Delights please click here

Our winners Elisha and Tessa. Well done!