Monday, March 26, 2012

Three states in one week

Like most Queenslanders, I watched with interest over the weekend as the state election process unfolded.

With eight CQUniversity campuses in Queensland alone, I’m really looking forward to working with the incoming government and the local MPs on our ambitious campus renewal projects and progress of our aim to be Queensland’s first dual-sector institution.

The University has enjoyed strong and fruitful ties with many of those MPs who might be retiring or who may have lost their seat over the weekend. On behalf of CQUniversity, I thank them for their support and for being such valuable advocates for the University. I wish them well in whatever the future brings their way.

I am leaving Queensland behind this afternoon with trips to both Sydney and Melbourne in the coming days. I’ll be presenting at the Higher Education Congress in Sydney and the Interconnected Tertiary Education conference in Melbourne.

Anita and I are also very excited to be attending the official launch of CQUniversity’s Sonogoraphy program based at our Sydney campus tomorrow evening. As this is Australia's only sonography program available for undergraduate entry (with postgraduate exit), there's been an enthusiastic response from students keen to help relieve a critical health workforce shortage. You can read more about our unique sonography program in UniNews.

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.