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.

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