Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Explore digital media through an interactive exhibition in Mackay

Prepare to be blown away by an interactive digital media exhibition by current CQUniversity students and recent graduates of the Bachelor of Multimedia Studies program.

Raw Digitalent is a free exhibition which is being launched on Friday, October 5 from 5pm at the Central Queensland Conservatorium of Music at CQUniversity Mackay, and will remain open to the wider public during business hours until October 26.

The exhibition will feature 2D and 3D animation, graphic design, web design, games, illustration, photography and video and unlike regular exhibitions, the Raw Digitalent will give audiences the chance to interact with the art works on show.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Great graduation in Rockhampton yesterday

Graduations are most certainly a family affair, and sometimes we get to witness two generations of a family graduating on the same day.

This is staff member and Phd graduate Judith Applegarth with son Sam, who graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical) (Co-op) with Honours at the CQUni Rockhampton graduation yesterday.

A special mention should also go to Aunty Judith Tatow who was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of the University in recognition of a lifetime of community service in both the Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities.



Wednesday, September 19, 2012

CQUniversity academics cited for outstanding contributions

CQUniversity is fortunate enough to have hundreds of dedicated staff who contribute great things to our university every day.

This week – two of our staff - academics Sherie Elliott and Associate Professor Kerry Reid-Searl have each earned a national 'Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning', in the Australian Office for Learning and Teaching awards for 2012.

Sherie who is based in Gladstone works with students in bridging programs in her role as a lecturer with the Academic Learning Services Unit. She has been awarded for providing outstanding support and guidance to stimulate and consolidate learning – creating an engaging learning experience that inspires students to succeed.
Based in Rockhampton, Kerry has been awarded for sustained excellence in the creation of a highly imaginative simulation teaching technique, using human-like props which prepare nursing students for practice. This award also recognises her international leadership with the MASK-EDTM and Pup-EdTM simulation packages. Read more about Kerry Reid-Searl’s work.

Citations for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning recognise and reward the diverse contributions made by individuals and teams to the quality of student learning and are awarded to those who have made a significant contribution to quality student learning in a specific area of responsibility over a sustained period, whether they are academic staff, general staff, sessional staff or institutional associates.

Congratulations Sherie and Kerry!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Dual sector and reputation: a VC’s perspective

In the recent flurry of activity surrounding dual sector – including the Queensland Government announcing its in-principle support for a merger between CQUniversity and CQ TAFE – I have received many words of positive encouragement from staff, students, local businesspeople and members of the community. This is great to see and reminds me of why we embarked on this project in the first place; to bring about a generational shift in education and employment opportunities for the people of Central Queensland.

Those that know me know that I am never one to shy away from a debate, so my ears pricked up when I began to hear a couple of comments about the potential damage a dual sector model might cause towards CQUniversity’s reputation! Over the past few days, I have received a small number of highly articulate, thoughtfully written emails from students, expressing their concerns about the merger and what it might mean for the reputation of the University (and the value of their qualifications).

I would like to genuinely thank these students for their correspondence. They obviously care passionately about this university (as do I) and their concerns are well thought-out and carry the best of intentions.

However, I wanted to write this blog to state, for the record, the University’s view on this issue and clear up any misconceptions about what a dual sector future will mean for CQUniversity’s reputation.

Firstly, let me reassure all students – past, present and future – that the CQUniversity degree you currently have mounted on the wall, or that you hope to attain in the coming months and years, will be worth just as much “post-dual sector” as it is today. In fact, it may be worth a whole lot more.

You see, dual sector universities are not a new concept (there are already five across Australia), and those currently in operation are among some of the nation’s finest universities. Take Swinburne University in Victoria for example. Internationally, Swinburne is named among the top 450 universities in the world by the prestigious Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2011 and in the top 3% of universities worldwide by the QS World University Rankings. Swinburne’s path to dual sector was not dissimilar to ours; through a merger with the Outer Eastern College of TAFE in 1998.

Perhaps even more appropriate to the CQUniversity context is RMIT (also in Victoria), which since 2004 has consistently placed in the Times’ top 100 universities in the world for producing work-ready graduates (something we have always taken great pride in ourselves). And Charles Darwin University in the Northern Territory, the most recent player on the dual sector scene, was ranked 309th in the world by the Times in 2011-12.

So why are these institutions performing so highly? In my view, it is because they have adapted to the changing needs of the society we live in. In this post-GFC, post-resource boom world, it is no longer good enough to walk into a job interview with a qualification from an “elite” university and simply expect to be hired. More and more, employers are looking for candidates who have taken part in work-integrated learning while studying (something dual sector universities excel at), candidates who have taken part in self-initiated work experience with “real world” industries (ditto), candidates who have “skilled up” with VET qualifications on the side and have a diverse skill set (see last response), and candidates who aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty.

In Central Queensland, you only have to look at all the fluoro shirts in the main street or the oversized trucks on the highway to recognise that the era of educational snobbery is quickly becoming irrelevant. In the new economy of the Asian century, the playing field is level and – to borrow a phrase – we’re all in this together. We don’t separate maths and science from phys ed and art in our high schools; so why are we perpetuating this “two-speed education economy” in our universities and TAFEs? I think there is strength in numbers and strength in a combined approach to post-school learning.

CQUniversity is a university of opportunity, and I make no apologies for that. At CQUniversity, we want to be defined by the students we include, not those we exclude. In a “lucky country” like Australia, where everyone has the right to a fair go, higher education should not be the bastion of the wealthy and the privileged. As a dual sector university, it won’t matter if you’re a STEPS student, a trainee hairdresser, an apprentice boilermaker, an undergraduate engineer or a postdoctoral research student – you will be a student of CQUniversity and you will be an equal contributor to its greatness.

By bringing TAFE into the University, we are applying our own rigorous quality standard to the certificate and diploma programs currently on offer, making them even more sought after by prospective students and employers alike. On the other side of the coin, we are making the world of vocational education – the sort of practical skills that one needs to get ahead in today’s competitive job market – more accessible to degree-level students, in the most streamlined manner possible. And we are ensuring that people who enter the University through any door (be it vocational, undergraduate or postgraduate) are given access to the whole spectrum of post-school learning, so that they can truly “be what they want to be”.

Post-merger, we will still be a university. We will continue to adhere to stringent standards of the Australian Qualifications Framework, which ensures the quality of our offerings is consistent with all other Australian universities, and our programs will continue to be accredited by prestigious professional bodies like Engineers Australia, CPA, the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia and the Queensland College of Teachers. That is not changing.

What will change is that CQUniversity will be more inclusive, more diverse, better resourced and more adaptable to the changing needs of industries and employers than ever before. And with $73.8 million in Federal funding for big-ticket infrastructure projects in the pipeline, we will have some of the best facilities of any university or TAFE not only in this state, but across Australia. I think that is certainly something to aspire to.

I hope that clears up some of your concerns, and gets you thinking about the exciting possibilities on the horizon. If you have any further comments or questions, please feel free to drop me a line at I look forward to sharing the dual sector journey with all of you.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

All the best to our next set of graduates

For the best part of this week I have been out on the road attending graduation ceremonies at our various campuses - and I must say it’s one of my favourite times of the year.

I’ve been to many ceremonies in my time, but never tire of going to more. I love to be able to share in this experience with our students and farewell them as they continue on in their lives – whether it be on to careers, travel or further study.

As much as celebrating a graduation is an important and significant milestone and achievement for our students sometimes it’s even more so for their families – and this is the thing I enjoy witnessing the most.

Some of our students are the first in their families to attend university and so their achievement also becomes the achievement of their entire family.

Watching a child graduate and achieve a degree is undoubtedly one of the proudest moments a parent can have – particularly if that child has followed a non-traditional path into study. Conversely, it is wonderful to see the young (and older!) children of our many mature age graduates cheering on their Mum or Dad at every ceremony we hold. Meeting with the families of students and hearing their unique stories is always the highlight of every graduation event.

CQUniversity has the highest percentage of students from lower socio-economic backgrounds than any other university in Australia, so it’s fair to say that many of our students may have faced some sort of financial hardship or other obstacle during their time at university. This just makes the achievement even greater.

Along with students and their families graduation days are also special for CQUniversity staff. I always encourage staff from both our professional and academic areas to attend ceremonies wherever possible. I believe it means a lot to our students and their families to meet with the people who have directly or indirectly helped and influenced them during their time studying, and it is also a great opportunity for our staff to see firsthand what we are achieving, the futures that are being shaped and how we are changing lives for the better.

Good luck to all of the students who are about to graduate and embark on the next chapter of their lives - thank you for choosing CQUniversity and may you realise every success along the way. Thanks also to the families and CQUni staff who have provided guidance and support along the way.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Six minutes of history

Avid followers of this blog will hopefully recall my previous post about CQUniversity celebrating 20 years of university status in 2012.

If, like me, you’ve only been at the university for a few years, or if you’re not fully acquainted with the rich history of the institution (going all the way back to 1967, when it was known as the Queensland Institute of Technology Capricornia), then you should definitely have a look at this great video put together by the University. It will bring you up to speed on 45 years of history in a little over six minutes!

While the fashions may have changed, it is evident that one thing about CQUniversity and its predecessor institutions has stayed the same: the commitment to providing quality learning outcomes for Central Queensland communities (and beyond). It’s a legacy we look forward to honouring over the next 20 years as well.