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!

1 comment:

Carolyn said...

To: Vice Chancellor - CQUniversity
Subject: WIST course

Dear Professor Bowman,

My name is Carolyn, I have just completed your WIST program
with Distinction, and would like to sincerely thank you for the
opportunity in taking part in the most rewarding academic venture in my
life to date. I live in a remote, insular mining town and through a
chance meeting with one of your staff members here in Dysart, found out
about the WIST course and decided it was perfect to suit my current
circumstances and goals. I have now applied to study Bachelor of Nursing
at CQU. Previous to undertaking the WIST program I had no academic
confidence, and felt my ability to study and learn was severely lacking.
Through the support and encouragement offered to me by Nell Salem I
found confidence in my abilities, and so discovered a love of the
structure and discipline that accompanies learning. I have always
revered the academic world and am so proud at having completed the first
step into my future. Initially I was going to apply through QTAC, though
even if I had of been accepted, I now feel that it would have been a
waste of time and money to start university without this course behind
me, due to my complete ignorance of the expectations of thesis writing
at university level. I have learnt so many valuable lessons, through
completion of the course, that I will take with me into the future. I
have discovered a renewed resourcefulness and strength of conviction,
and will endeavour to always achieve maximum outcomes in my imminent
profession. The program being free was just an added bonus, for I feel
no monetary value could be placed upon the knowledge and confidence I
have gained. Thank you once again for this wonderful opportunity.

Yours sincerely, Carolyn.