Friday, February 12, 2010

Back to the land of Oz

Sunday morning was spent at another private University – Yarmouk Private University (YPU). This is a University which is situated about 40 minutes drive from the Centre of Damascus. It is a new University which has only been operating for about a year. It has 500 students and is growing very rapidly. The University has a very impressive campus and has big plans for expansion.

We met with the President, Professor Dr. Mhd. Fayez Kiwan, the Dean of Informatics and Communication Engineering, the Dean of the faculty of Architecture and Civil Engineering and the Manager of Students Affairs.

We discussed a number of ideas for how our two universities can work together. We came away thinking that we would work with the YPU in the future – both within Syria and Australia. I think there is a good chance that we will be seeing academic and professional staff from YPU visiting CQUniversity in the future. I also think that there will be a chance for staff from our University to visit YPU to deliver intensive programs.

After the visit to YPU we travelled to our hotel to pick up our bags and travelled to the airport. Damascus airport has to be one of the most chaotic places on the face of the earth. The airport was a queue free zone – the scrum was the order of the day. There was failure in the airports electricity system – and they had great problems printing out our boarding passes! We left Damascus about three hours late. We arrived back in Dubai at past midnight. We were up early on Monday to get to the airport for our flights.

So on Monday I said goodbye to Ken, Geoff and Ali. It really had been a pleasure travelling with these three colleagues – and I had learnt a lot about the CMS operations.

I spent most of Monday on a flight to Singapore – arriving at about 10.30pm.

Tuesday started with two breakfast meetings (time for a big diet when I get back). The first of these was with a group of our Alumni. The leader of the Alumni group is Dr Vincent Wee. I have known Vincent for a long time – he used to work for JCU Singapore – so it was good to catch up with him. Other Alumni at the meeting included Tina Shum, Valerie Wee and Chris Pan. We discussed ways in which we can interact with Alumni in Singapore. The group were keen to form a proper Chapter. If academic staff are passing through Singapore they should, if possible, meet with the Alumni group and consider giving a lecture. We also discussed the possibility of a group coming out to Rockhampton for the next University Ball. This will be a chance to show off the University. I will be discussing these plans with the Development Unit when I get back to Rocky.

After this meeting I visited the CQUniversity campus in Singapore which is operated by Melior Education Group. I was very impressed with the professionalism of the operation. I was shown around by the Melior CEO Patrick Loke. Along with other members of staff I also met with another Director of Melior – Mr S. K. Cheng. We discussed ways in which we could grow the operation in Singapore. There is potential to do more. I am very keen to see Melior Group and CMS working more closely together in the future – there are great synergies between the operations.

I then had a lunch meeting with the Melior Academic Board. This Board is chaired by Dr Mathew Yap. The other members are Dr Carol Balhetchet and Dr Tan Kok Heng. All members of the Board are Alumni of CQUniversity. Dr Balhetchet is a well known personality in Singapore. It was a very pleasant meeting with the Board members explaining their role and their aspirations for CQUniversity in Singapore.

It was then off to the airport to catch a flight to Brisbane. I arrived at my hotel at about 3am. I was then up after about three hours sleep to attend a meeting with the VC at the University of Queensland. I am writing this at Brisbane airport – waiting for my flight to Rocky. I have a full afternoon of meetings and then an official dinner meeting this evening. If you think I am looking for sympathy – you are right!

So was it worth it? From a financial point of view - probably yes. The outcome from the meeting with the UAE Ministry of Education alone should cover the cost of the trip many times over. But it was also worth it to raise the profile of the University and to form links with other Universities. However this will only have benefit to the University if we follow up on all the opportunities which have been identified. I will be reporting back to you in the coming months regarding outcomes.

But that is only my point of view. I would very much appreciate the CQUniversity community’s response to this trip. I hope you have enjoyed this insight into my travels as the VC. I will endeavour to report back to you in this manner whenever I travel.



Kathy said...

Hi Scott
As you know, we very much value the impact that involvement of the VC has in international relationships - as well as other senior Chancellery and academic staff. Other universities are always most impressed when we can very clearly tell them about our research - we have had Rob Reed and other enthusiastic supporters make great impressions in the past.

As you say, the travel is not so great - Jacqui White is currently battling snow and icy roads in Korea, and 3 hour taxi rides, plane delays etc because of the conditions. She is also getting a very positive reception.

Looking forward to following up the various activities along with faculty staff.


Geoff said...

It looks like you have made some really good contacts. Many of these must be made by 'the head honcho' to demonstrate a real commitment.

All the best with converting the contacts and opportunities to real outcomes over the ensuing months and years.

...Geoff Higgins

Patrick Loke said...

Hi Scott,

Greetings from Melior in Singapore.

It was great to meet with you and I'm glad you found that the CQUniversity campus in Singapore is professionally managed.

My team and I are truly impressed by your deep understanding of the market here. In my 15 years' experience in the Private Education industry, I've met over 100 senior management people from various Universities (mostly Australian and British, a few American). I cannot think of any one who has the kind of market knowledge and vision you possess for the Singapore and regional markets.

Yes, as we've discussed while you were here, there is potential for the CQU-Melior partnership to do more and move towards a superior business model. We'll follow up from there. I'm also keen to work closely with CMS like you've suggested. I'll be sending a formal invitation through your Office to CMS's senior management to visit Melior's campuses in Singapore and Vietnam. I'll also be happy to meet with CMS management at any CQUniversity's campuses.

Today is the eve of Chinese New Year and the festive mood in Singapore is strong. In the midst of this, I see great prosperity for the CQU-Melior partnership. I look forward to a fantastic long-term working relationship with you and your team.

Have a blessed weekend!

Best Regards,
Patrick Loke
CEO, Melior Education Group, Singapore

TJG said...

Hi Professor Bowman - Trust the trip was a benefical. Will chat at council meeting this faternoon (Mon 15 Feb 2010). Kind regards Tim Griffin OAM.

PS congrats GrandDad

TJG said...

Trust the trip was a success. Sounds like a lot of opportunities. Kind regards Tim Griffin OAM - CQUNi Council member.

PS Congrats Granddad !

TJG said...

Hi Professor Bowman - sounds exciting. Look forward to further discussion at Council meeting today Mon 15 Feb 2010.

Kind regards
Tim Griffin OAM
Council member
CQUni - Aust

TJG said...

Thanks for update.

Tim Griffin OAM

CQUestioning said...

Hi Scott,
Speaking of 'back to the land of OZ' what is CQUni doing in terms of advocacy for our regional communities. As the most engaged university for Central Queensland, are we advocates for our regional and remote areas? It seems that many communities in regional and remote Queensland are highly disadvantaged and vulnerable communities - for instance, results in AEDI and NAPLAN are demonstrating how at risk and vulnerable regional communities/children are.
How might our regional campuses turn this around? Should the role of CQUni include action and visibility in matters of advocacy?

Anna Bligh's Green Paper 'A Flying Start for Queensland' currently is seeking university responses about various proposals. I understand that people in the Education Faculty are preparing a response, but will this response be highlighting the needs and challenges of our regional communities?

Should we see advocacy as an important feature of 'engagement'? Do we care about the kids, youth, families, parents, learners, communities in our footprint? How are we demonstrating this? How are we commmunicating this? How do we make things better for our regional and remote communities?