Thursday, May 12, 2011

Busy, busy, busy

I think that is how most people at the University are feeling at the moment. But I also think there is a real feeling of progress in the air. All indicators are showing that we are really moving forward.

This week we were very privileged to have the Honourable Michael Kirby on campus in Rockhampton to launch our new Law Degree. What a great man he is. He has been compared many times to Lord Denning. I think it is quite fair to say that he is the leading legal mind of our time. It was very interesting to note how he approached the launch of the degree (which he generously did for no cost might I add). It was very obvious that he had read everything there was to read about the degree. He was very complimentary about the innovative nature of the degree - on line, three year duration and very accessible. He also gave us some pointers on how the degree can be made even better and to how we should be looking after our law students. He was very concerned about some recent research that indicates that law students are much more prone to depression than students from any other discipline. This is something we will have to watch out for on our program.

Yesterday we saw the federal budget handed down. On the whole I think it is very good for rural/regional universities. We will do well in our funding due to indexation and regional loading, and there is also funding for regional infrastructure. When we become a Dual Sector University we will also hopefully benefit from the extra funding for training that was announced. On that note it was good to welcome Mr Nik Babovik on board last week as our foundation Deputy Vice Chancellor Vocational Education and Training.

Domestic applications look very good for our mid-year intake; we are up about 40% on this time last year. This is a great result. Both faculties are doing well - but yet again nursing is the stand out program.

International applications and enrolments are not in such a positive position. There is no doubt that our international student numbers are down. Our staff in this area are working very hard under very difficult environmental circumstances. This week I am attending graduations in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne; it is always fantastic to see our international students graduate. We have parents fly in from all over the world to see their children reach their important milestone. Internationalisation is at the heart of our University and we will persevere with it through these hard times.

This week Anita and I have had a visiting paramedic student staying with us. Having a new academic (Anita) and a student in the house helps to keep me very grounded. It has really made me appreciate how hard both groups work. Both are very complimentary about the University - its staff and processes - it is always good to hear this.

On Monday evening I enjoyed meeting applicants for positions we have in our new degrees to come online in Physiotherapy, OT, Speech Pathology and Podiatry. We have already recruited to oral health. Planning for our allied health clinic is going well and we hope to start construction soon. This is just another example of how the University is in change mode. And I think we are going to be in this hectic change mode for at least another two years. It will have to be like this if we are going to make the most of all the opportunities that are available to us.

On a personal level I have had a couple of weekends doing very little - I can strongly recommend it! (I apologise to folks that have been working very hard over recent weekends doing res schools.) I have been having a lot of fun making pots; I took pottery when I was at school and have never really lost the love of it. Recently I found an old clay pit in Rockhampton so I have been digging my own clay. Taking clay from the ground and seeing it a few weeks later as a pot gives me a real kick!

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