Monday, March 12, 2012

Why CQ needs dual-sector

I thought I would share a letter to the Editor that I sent to local newspapers last week:

Letter to the Editor from Professor Scott Bowman – Dual Sector
2 March 2011

The proposed merger between CQ TAFE and CQUniversity has generated a lot of interest in the media lately, which I think is a good thing – the community should be having a discussion about how post-schooling education can be tailored to better meet the unique needs of Central Queensland.

We are sitting in a region unlike any other in Australia, at a time unlike any other, with opportunities and challenges being thrown at us that only come along once in a lifetime. The communities, industries, economies, workforce pressures, skills needs, social factors, environments and lifestyle options of Central Queensland cannot be found anywhere else in the state, yet for decades we’ve had the same cookie-cutter post-schooling education options as everywhere else in the state. It works, but it could work so much better for us.

I believe the merger of CQ TAFE with CQUniversity will unlock the region’s potential to respond more quickly and effectively to the education and training demands in our own backyard. Currently we have a TAFE and a University, both full of great staff, both with fantastic facilities, both competing for the same school leavers and students, both trying to skill the local workforce, but with no real coordination or strategy between them because they are working in relative isolation. And it is the students that are missing out. This idea of academic apartheid – where you are either on a ‘TAFE’ or ‘University’ path for life – has held this region back from realising its full potential.

I want the line between TAFE and Higher Education in Central Queensland to be blurred, so that our students don’t even realise they are drifting back and forth between the two. I want our Engineering students at uni to have the choice of TAFE vocational competencies built into their degree to make them more attractive to local industries. I want a TAFE-trained Enrolled Nurse to not hesitate coming back to their own university to train further to become a Registered Nurse. I want the uni’s performing arts students to use TAFE resources to learn how to use power tools so they can say on their CV that they are qualified to build and design stage sets, which might secure them their first job. I want a TAFE qualified hairdresser to come back to their university one day and study a tertiary business course so they can open their own chain of salons. I want us to train the best welders, fitters, electricians, teachers, nurses and accountants that we possibly can. And I want this region to celebrate the graduation of a diesel mechanic at a ceremony alongside the graduation of a speech pathologist, because Central Queensland is in desperate need of both.

As a region I think we have more unmet potential than we realise. I want this merger to bring out the best in CQ TAFE, and I want CQ TAFE to bring out the best in CQUniversity.


michelle said...

I quite enjoyed your article but I am wondering if this will also means better services received by students?
Speaking as a first year student enrolled in the Bachelor of Learning Management through the Emerald campus, I muast say that Iam extremely dissapointed in the facilities I am able to access. The lecturers are wonderful but as for the computers and internet service we have access to, it is appalling.
I beleive that we as students here at Emerald are paying the same sort of money that students in bigger centres are paying, so why are we so far behind in the facilities we recieve. Surely if you are to offer the courses here, there should be the same sort of access to facilities others are receiving. I chose to study through CQU Emerald for the reason that it is a small campus and thought I would enjoy this more than being swallowed in a much larger UNI. I also thought that being able to come to campus to study and to use their facilities would be a bonus but I am finding it increasingly frustrating to do so. Computers seriously need updating and the internet service is so slow that it is hindering some of our lectures in the time it takes to do simple tasks.
So yes, although merging TAFE and UNI seems like a great idea maybe some major thought needs to be put into upgragding facilities.
Michelle Hughes

Vice Chancellor - CQUniversity said...

Thanks for taking the time to post a message Michelle. It is always nice to hear from students.

I agree, we do have some great staff at our Emerald campus and I’m pleased to report that our IT department is currently working on quadrupling the bandwidth capacity for our Emerald site. The connection to Emerald has been on a low bandwidth, which I realise has been very frustrating for students and staff, but I am sure with this upgrade, you will find the connection much quicker.

Best wishes with your BLM studies.

michelle said...

Thankyou for taking the time to reply to my comment.
I'm extremly happy to hear that something is being done about the internet connection and speaking not only for myself but alot of the staff and other students, we really look forward to when this is completed.