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! 

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Top 150 Under 50

Some more great news this morning as CQUniversity adds another highlight to its growing list of achievements for the year. I’m delighted to announce that we have officially been recognised by the Times Higher Education World Rankings (for the first time) within the world’s top 150 universities, under 50 years old.

This is a significant achievement for our university and shows that our hard work and determination, to transform CQUniversity from a strong university to a great university is paying off!

Over the past six years we have worked incredibly hard to increase our physical presence across Australia, grow our student numbers, deliver world-class research, improve our learning and teaching, and provide a great experience for our students.

In fact what we have achieved in such a short period of time is truly outstanding. We now have more than 30,000 students, delivery sites in every mainland state of Australia and some of the best graduate outcome rates in the nation. Most importantly though, we are Australia’s most inclusive and engaged university and will continue to measure our success by who we embrace rather than who we exclude.

What’s more today’s announcement follows on from several other significant achievements over the past 12 months, including being recognised within the world’s top 600 universities, being awarded five stars for inclusiveness, internationalisation and online/distance learning by the global QS Stars ratings system, achieving our highest ever Excellence in Research Australia (ERA) rankings, and most recently being recognised by international social innovation group Ashoka U as Australia’s first Changemaker Campus.

CQUniversity has a long proud history, both with CQ TAFE, which has been around for more than 125 years, and as the Queensland Institute of Technology (Capricornia), which was established almost 50 years ago. We have made a great impact on the communities we serve and next year we will celebrate 25 years since we achieved full university status. It’s very exciting to think about what the next 25 years have to offer and the difference we can make to the world around us.

For more information about the World’s top 150 universities under 50 please click here.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Old Rocky Favourite Returns

After a hiatus of more than a decade, the infamous Bird Cage has reopened at CQUniversity Rockhampton North campus. The revamped and modernised facility will add to a recent resurgence of campus life, with more vibrant events and activities now happening throughout the year. This is a really exciting development for our staff and our students - many of whom are now studying on campus. 

Operating as a licenced venue and cafĂ©, the Bird Cage is now open to CQUniversity staff, students and campus visitors. Initially, it will open from 11 am to 5 pm from Monday to Wednesday, with longer hours on Thursday (until 7pm) and Friday (until 9pm). It is also licenced to operate until midnight for special events.

Back in the day the Bird Cage was a favourite for many students, a place to relax and meet friends (and probably miss a few too many lectures and tutorials) and now a whole new generation of students will get to have this same experience. The space is fantastic and the massive outdoor deck is sure to be a real winner. Patrons can also bring their own food or select something off the menu meaning, so it really is a place for everyone to enjoy at any time. 

I am really proud at what our facilities team have developed, in fact I think it's one of the best and biggest uni bars I have ever seen. I know our students will absolutely love it and I look forward to bumping into a few of them there on my breaks. 

For a sneak peak have a look at our virtual tour below.