Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Leading Australian nurse authors

Earlier this year, CQUniversity was extremely fortunate to appoint one of its senior researchers – Professor Brenda Happell – as an Engaged Research Chair for Mental Health Nursing. We always knew at CQUni that Brenda was an amazing person – an esteemed researcher and Professor with a highly-regarded research track record.

So I was delighted to see a recent Journal of Clinical Nursing (JCN) article confirm what many of us already know – that Brenda is one of Australia’s top nursing academics, based on a detailed analysis of research publications undertaken by the JCN.

The analysis of research citations published in the JCN includes a special index where a score between 10 and 14 indicates an ‘excellent publication record'. Professor Happell's special index of 20 puts her in the top three on the ranking table.

CQUniversity has a strong and proud history in the nursing discipline. From our first offerings on the Rockhampton campus, we have now expanded to be located on another four campuses of CQUniversity – Mackay, Bundaberg, Noosa and Emerald – with both on-campus and distance learning. 2012 will see CQUniversity celebrating not only 20 years as a university, but also celebrating 20 years of graduating nursing students.

As the JCN so aptly put it “despite the many ways that publication outputs can be measured, calculated and ‘crunched’, it is important not to lose sight of the primary aim of nursing research – that is to improve patient care, enhance the health care experiences of patients and families, and strengthen the skills, sustainability and well-being of the nursing workforce.”

Whilst we are extremely proud of Brenda’s ranking in the JCN, it is the dedication and skill of Brenda and her colleagues that we are most proud of.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Representing Queensland on the world stage

I had a very busy and productive visit to Brisbane earlier this week.

I was very honoured to join the Deputy Premier and Treasurer Andrew Fraser for the launch of a new industry-led peak body the Study Queensland Industry Council (SQIC) on Wednesday. I was invited to be a member of this board – Chaired by Professor Bill Lovegrove, VC of the University of Southern Queensland – which aims to represent Queensland’s international education and training sector on the world stage.

CQUniversity is already one of Australia’s leading providers of international education and I believe this peak body will assist greatly with presenting a cooperative and holistic face for Queensland when we market overseas.

Mr Fraser spoke yesterday at the launch about how the SQIC will expand Queensland’s reputation as a world-class base for education and training services.
Education services are already Queensland’s third largest export industry, generating over $2.8 billion in export revenue in 2009-10 and providing jobs for around 17,000 Queenslanders – and CQUniversity is very proud to play a major part in this.

Internationalisation permeates all aspects of CQUniversity and the concept of international activity is not new to us. Over the past two decades, CQUniversity has grown to be multi-campus, multi-city university focused on preparing highly diverse learners for internationally-engaged and effective professional practice wherever they may be situated.

I think Queensland will have plenty to gain by boosting cooperation among providers, as international students may wish to experience ‘lifestyle’ study locations along the coast as well as city and rural campuses, while moving seamlessly between vocational and tertiary programs.

Speaking of our international students, I had a great evening with a group of CQUniversity Alumni in Brisbane following the launch of SQIC yesterday. Chancellor, Rennie Fritschy and I joined staff from the Brisbane campus and our Office of Development and Graduate Relations to host a reception for graduates and university donors. It was wonderful to hear stories about what our alumni have been up to since graduating and all said it was a nice feeling to be back ‘on campus’.

This was also an opportunity for me to thank our donors and other supporters as we truly value these relationships and love catching up with past students whenever possible.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Dual-sector progress

Things are progressing at a steady pace with our aim to be Queensland’s first dual-sector university.

Since the Queensland Premier, Anna Bligh paid us a visit in August this year to announce her approval for merger talks to proceed between CQUniversity and Central Queensland Institute of TAFE (CQIT) (see previous blog), I am pleased to say I was in Brisbane recently to meet with Julie Grantham, Director-General of the Department of Education and Training (DET) (pictured).

During this visit, Julie and I signed a Heads of Agreement document between the State of Queensland (represented by DET) and CQUniversity that records another significant milestone in the progress of the proposed merger between CQUniversity and CQIT.

This agreement commits CQUniversity and DET to more intensive negotiations leading to a detailed merger agreement down the track. I am looking forward to continuing the work we are undertaking with DET and CQIT to ensure this proposal achieves a positive outcome not only for the Government, CQIT and CQUniversity, but most importantly for the communities in Central Queensland.

Whilst we are waiting to hear from the Federal Government about our application for funding which will assist with this process, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Nik Babovic and his team are working hard to ensure we are ready to proceed to the next level of our journey to dual-sector status.

I’m sure this will pay off in years to come with greater study choices and career pathways for our regional students, helping them tap into our ongoing resources boom.

I look forward to sharing more information with you as progress is made.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Investing in our future

Figures released recently by the Minister for Tertiary Education, Senator Chris Evans, paint a very bright future for Australia’s universities.

It is pleasing indeed to see operating surpluses on the increase, revenue for the sector up 8.2% and Government funding increased by 8.9% in 2010.

CQUniversity was attributed as having an operating deficit for 2010 in this DEEWR report - Finance 2010: Financial reports of Higher Education Providers – which on the surface, may be cause for concern, but when put into context, comes as no surprise given our current rate of rapid expansion.

These figures are based on information we provided to the government for the 2010 reporting period and if you look closely at other sections of the report, it shows CQUniversity to have a ‘retained surplus’ of $205 million and a ‘total equity’ value of $284 million.

So, what does this all mean exactly? To put it simply, it means we have been using a large portion of ‘our own money’ to fund a rapid expansion of infrastructure, research and academic talent and fresh degree programs over the past two years. The University Council and I made a commitment when I was appointed Vice-Chancellor that we would ‘put our money where our mouth is’ and reinvigorate investment in our future and embark on a path of renewal at CQUniversity.

The first major milestone of CQUniversity’s Renewal Plan was to be financially sustainable by 2011 – and I am very pleased to say that we have achieved this goal. CQUniversity’s finances are in good position which means we have been able to draw largely on our own resources, knowing there is still plenty of ‘money in the bank’ to retain an overall surplus.

Dozens of projects are contributing to the university’s renewal program of upgrading teaching infrastructure and building new teaching and community facilities such as a multi-million dollar relocation of CQUniversity Brisbane; a brand new 72 room student accommodation facility and medical science laboratories in Mackay (pictured above); a $13M allied health clinic and $10.5M redevelopment of our engineering teaching precinct in Rockhampton; construction of sonography laboratories in Sydney and refurbishment of research centres in Adelaide and Rockhampton to name just a few.

It could be argued we are Queensland’s fastest growing university and if anything, the table contained in the DEEWR report reflects our ambitious renewal program – we aren’t sitting on our reserves, we are investing it in our future – our students.

We are looking forward to 2012 and another strong year of enrolments. We are expanding program and course offerings at all campuses and developing fully-fledged university cities, increasing participation in higher education and addressing workforce needs. In fact, I recently found out our new Paramedic Science program is 65% over enrolled for next year and (unfortunately) we will need to turn students away.

So it is all good news – we are not going broke – far from it.