Monday, December 21, 2015

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

It's one of my favourite times of the year again! Christmas is only a couple of sleeps away and it's time for a break with family and friends. As I wind down for the year it also gives me some time to reflect on what a busy and remarkable year it's been for the University.

While 2015's highlights have been countless, I’ve taken on the difficult challenge of creating a list of the best ten. I hope this shortlist provides you with an idea of the enormity of our national reach, and the impact we are having on students in all our local communities. In no particular order, my proudest highlights for CQUniversity during the year were:

  1. Three new campuses opened: $7.5 million CQUniversity Melbourne CBD campus, home to 1,400 students; $15 million CQUniversity Cairns campus at Cairns Square in heart of CBD, set to be home to 2,500 domestic and international students by 2020; and $3 million CQUniversity Townsville CBD campus, growing face-to-face programs including Paramedic Science, Nursing, Law, Education, and Psychology. With 35,000 students spread over 24 campus sites nation-wide, we are now the largest university based in regional Australia.
  2. CQUniversity also opened Stage Two of our $26 million Community Health Clinic in Rockhampton (a Federal and State Governments partnership which now provides hundreds of public health appointments each week and great learning experiences for our health students), and competed the $16.6 million Federally-funded Engineering Centre at our Mackay campus. More than $200 million has now been invested in capital works infrastructure across our campuses since 2009!
  3. A swathe of new training courses and degrees unveiled, including vocational and dual sector qualifications in Logistics, Tourism, Building and Construction and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, and higher degree programs including Australia’s newest and most hands-on Agriculture degree, a Bachelor of Cardiac Physiology, a Mechatronics stream in our popular Bachelor of Engineering, and Australia’s first trans-city MBA, which debuted at number 13 in Boss Magazine’s top 50 MBA list.
  4. The largest cohort of graduating students in our history, including our first-ever graduates in newer courses such as Speech Pathology and Oral Health, plus CQUniversity’s first vocational students to cross the floor at graduation ceremonies, and our first students to graduate from CQUniversity’s Study Centre in Geraldton, WA.
  5. Impressive grant success from the Australian Research Council (ARC), with funds for four CQUniversity projects giving us one of the highest overall success rates in the nation. Projects will look at computer scanning classification processes, rail safety teamwork, chicken gut health on poultry farms, and how shift workers can better manage sleep. We also expect to see a strong leap in our national research rankings when the ARC announces its latest data this month. 
  6. CQUniversity achieved its best-ever ratings in the Commonwealth Government’s periodic assessment of Australia research. Our 2015 Excellence in Research Australia results showed that CQU was conducting research rated as at/above/well above world standard in many areas including Mathematics, Psychology, Nursing, Agriculture & VET Science, Environmental Science, Engineering, Medical & Health Science, Artificial Intelligence, and Public Health & Health Services. These ratings reflect CQUniversity’s ever-growing commitment to research, with four new research centres opened in 2015; the Institute for Future Farming Systems, the Centre for Tourism and Regional Opportunity, the Centre for Railway Engineering, and the Centre for Intelligent and Networked Systems. CQUniversity also had a highly successful year in winning numerous highly competitive national research grants in key areas.
  7. For the first time, CQUniversity hosted WorldSkills Australia regional competitions, with hundreds of our apprentices, trainees and students competing in trade challenges, and many now going on to the national finals in 2016. We also had seven vocational students and one teacher named as regional finalists in the Queensland Training Awards, with five winning through to the state finals.
  8. The Commonwealth Government’s Quality Indicators for Learning & Teaching (QILT) 2015 rankings showed the nation that CQUniversity is streets ahead of most other universities – including the prestigious “Group of Eight” members – on important measures like full time graduate employment success, graduate median salaries, and student support.
  9. Our popular 10,000 Steps health and wellbeing initiative reached its 300,000-participant milestone, while also receiving a significant funding boost from the Queensland Government, meaning the 14-year old program will go on to boost the health of Australians for many years yet. 
  10. And saving the best till last, the prestigious Times Higher Education World Rankings this year placed CQUniversity in the Top 600 universities, putting us in the top 3 per cent of world universities!  I am very confident that our reputational trajectory will see us enter the top 500 in the next ranking.

Clearly, it’s been a busy 12 months, and one that’s featured great success across CQUniversity’s many and growing fields of specialty. The moment that made me most proud of being the Vice-Chancellor of this remarkable institution, however, was how the entire university community responded the devastation of Cyclone Marcia. This natural disaster took our main Rockhampton campuses offline for 10 days, and caused major disruptions to all 24 campuses with the “lights out” at HQ. The ingenuity and resourcefulness of our staff during this time was matched only by their selflessness, as many helped with the enormous campus clean-up (even while their own homes remained damaged), to ensure students commencing O-Week activities the following week could enjoy a positive term start.    

I hope everyone enjoys the upcoming break and spends some quality time with those dear to them. Please have a safe and Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


Friday, December 18, 2015

More great news for CQUni - or should I say our graduates?

Some more great news overnight that CQUniversity graduates are once again ahead of the pack when it comes to gaining full-time employment after completing their studies. In fact, CQUniversity degrees have been confirmed as among the most valuable in Australia, with the latest national data once again showing CQUniversity’s graduate employability well ahead of the national average.

CQUniversity bachelor degree graduates had an overall full-time employment rate of 79.6 per cent in 2014, more than 10 percentage points above the national average of just 68.8 per cent.

The new data from Graduate Careers Australia (GCA) looks at whether Australian graduates who completed their studies in 2014 had found full-time work within four months of completing their degree. 

CQUniversity always performs well in this survey but I actually think it's remarkable that for the past four years running CQUniversity's results have surpassed the national average by 10 percentage points or more! 

The results show that in particular, CQUniversity graduates in the fields of Building, Business Studies, Education and Health were comprehensively outperforming their counterparts at other universities.

A whopping 95 per cent of CQUniversity's Building graduates, across programs including Building Design, Construction Management, and Building Surveying, had found a full-time job in that timeframe – almost 15 percentage points ahead of the national average.

CQUniversity’s Education graduates were even further ahead of the field, with 92.7 percent of graduates landing a full-time job – more than 20 percentage points above of the national average. And our engineering graduates are still finding employment, at a very high rate, despite the recent downturn in the mining industry.

Area of study
National average
CQUni Employment rate
Electrical Engineering
Business Studies
Health (other)
Civil Engineering
Mechanical Engineering

CQUniversity has grown steadily to become the largest and fastest growing university based in regional Australia. We now have more students than at any other time in our history, and we are going to tremendous lengths to ensure they are among the most work-ready graduates in the nation.  

The latest data really validates what our communities have been telling us – that our massive investment in new course offerings and facilities in years gone by is having a positive effect on workforce skills shortages. We really are fueling our local economies by turning out large numbers of highly skilled, incredibly well sought-after graduates year after year. 

What's more these results sit in perfect harmony with other recently released national data from the Commonwealth’s Quality Indicators for Teaching and Learning which show CQUniversity in the top five Australian universities for graduate employment and median graduate salaries, and ahead of the large sandstone universities for student support. These results prove that CQUniversity is increasingly becoming known as a premier work-ready university.

It’s been a good year for CQUniversity (and our graduates)! 

Friday, December 4, 2015

CQUni Research excellence recognised in #ERA2015

It’s great to be able to finish not just the week bust so too the year on a very positive note for the University, following the release of the long-awaited 2015 Excellence in research Australia (ERA) results.

It is fantastic news for CQUniversity with findings showing that we are conducting research rated as at, above, or well above world standard across 14 different research categories.

This is a remarkable improvement from just five years ago when we attained this level in just three research categories. 

CQUniversity’s dramatic leap in research performance has been underpinned by our record investment in research facilities and personnel, innovative and engaged research strategy, and tremendous success in securing highly competitive national research grants.

These ERA results validate our sharp focus on research informed by industry and community collaboration. In fact, what we have seen with the three ERA assessments conducted over the past five years has been a consistent acceleration of CQUniversity’s research strengths in line with our focus on industry and community engagement.

These results show that we have established ourselves as research leaders in areas such as Psychology, Agriculture & Vet Science, Environmental Science, Mathematics, Nursing, Engineering, Medical & Health Science, Artificial Intelligence, and Public Health & Health Services. Having so many research areas recognised by the Commonwealth Government as above or well above world standard is a tremendous reward for the University and our many talented researchers.

Our results this year include:
·         5 in Mathematical Sciences
·         5 in Applied Mathematics
·         5 in Psychology and Cognitive Services
·         5 in Other Psychology and Cognitive Services
·         5 in Nursing
·         5 in Other Medical and Health Services
·         4 in Agriculture & Vet Sciences
·         4 in Environmental Sciences
·         4 in Medical & Health Sciences
·         4 in Environmental Science & Management
·         4 in Mechanical Engineering
·         3 in Artificial Intelligence & Image Processing
·         3 in Public Health and Health Services
·         3 in Engineering

These are absolutely fantastic results however we are only just getting started. Our research momentum has us firmly on a trajectory that will see us emerge as one of Australia’s truly great universities. And we plan to take our communities and industries along with us on this remarkable ride.

What’s more it also goes to show that excellent research doesn’t just happen in elite, metropolitan based universities. Excellent research is conducted in regional Australia, by great regional universities like CQUniversity.

I am incredibly proud of these remarkable results and commend everyone involved with research at CQUniversity who have worked so hard to achieve this excellent outcome. In particular Provost Hilary Winchester and Pro Vice-Chancellor Grant Stanley should be credited for their outstanding leadership and vision when it comes to the University’s research efforts.

I hope these results will inspire you as a student and that you’ll all join with me in celebrating these results and congratulating our researchers!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

#IDPWD – recognising our staff and students with disability

Today is the International Day of People with a Disability – an important day to recognise the strength and ability of those living with disability.

In particular I’d like to recognise the significant achievements and contribution our staff and students with a disability, make to this university and their communities. CQUniversity is known as an inclusive university because we understand that disability does not impact someone’s ability to study and be who they want to be. It’s because of this that CQUniversity has one of the highest ratios of students with a disability – something all of us at CQUniversity are very proud of.

Along with our staff and students with a disability who inspire us every day, we also have a fantastic team of accessibility support officers who work with our students to ensure the University is offering an inclusive and supportive learning environment. This is one of the key services our student success centres delivers and is vital component of the overall student experience.

Today and tomorrow the University’s Mackay campus will also be hosting the Queensland Disability Liaison Officer’s Conference. This event will bring together disability support experts from universities across Queensland, to share experiences, ideas and knowledge, with a view to bring about best practice and innovative service delivery.

In particular the conference’s theme ‘Exploring perspectives on responding to diversity’ will cover a range of discussions and topics including resources, apps and web tools for students with disability, how to provide support to students with disabilities and interactive sessions.

I look forward to finding out more about the learnings from this conference and continuing to work with our fantastic staff and students, to ensure CQUniversity maintains its position as an inclusive and accessible place to study and work. 

Sharing knowledge in Mackay

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

CQUni students have the big ideas

Some great news overnight, with a CQUniversity team once again winning the national Big Idea, social innovation competition, in the hotly contented postgraduate division.

This achievement means that a CQUniversity team has now been triumphant two years in a row (last year three undergraduate engineering students won for ‘The Shelter Project’).

The winning team this year was made up of Adelaide-based postgraduate students Elisha Vlaholias and Tessa Beneviste, their project was named The Garden of Earthly Delights.

The project, if taken to fruition, would see part of Adelaide’s Southern parklands transformed into a community garden that provides flexible and transitional employment, education and training for people experiencing homelessness. The project would be grounded in the ethics of permaculture, earth care, people care and fair share and would be associated with CQUni’s new permaculture program.

The Big Idea competition is co-ordinated by The Big Issue  - an independent, not-for-profit organisation that delivers solutions to help homeless, marginalised and disadvantaged people to positively change their lives. The Big Idea is a social enterprise planning competition for university students that seeks to find new social enterprise ideas that can deliver benefits to society both in Australia and abroad.

With social innovation being one of CQUniversity’s five pillars of greatness, this is extremely exciting news for the whole university, showing that we are not just a university that gives back but also a university that inspires our students to become change makers.

Congratulations to Elisha and Tessa on this fantastic achievement! Credit must also go to the many staff who coached them during the development and presentation of this project, in particular Melbourne Associate Vice-Chancellor Lara Carton who has been instrumental in getting CQUniversity involved with the Big Idea and working with our students to ensure their success.

To find out more about The Garden of Earthly Delights please click here

Our winners Elisha and Tessa. Well done!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Domestic Violence Education and Research is part of the solution

Today is White Ribbon Day, a day for us to reflect and make a stand when it comes to violence against women. Unfortunately this year we have heard too many stories of women being harmed by their partners or ex-partners, tragically most with fatal consequences.

The issue of domestic violence is serious and real, and each and every one of us must play our part in putting an end to it. It is also something that can happen to anyone, regardless of who they are and their background.  There are many ways we can play a part, by doing things like taking notice of the signs that someone may be in trouble, speaking up when you can see someone is in a dangerous situation and teaching our kids about respectful behaviour.

The other way we can find a solution to this problem is through research and education. By researching why domestic violence happens and its subsequent impacts, we will be best placed to develop education programs that help to prevent it from happening and can ensure professionals who work with victims of domestic violence provide the best care, support and advice.

Stopping this terrible epidemic is everyone’s responsibility and I am extremely proud of the work CQUniversity is doing when it comes to making a difference. In particular the Centre for Domestic and Family Violence Research (CDFVR) is doing some incredible things when it comes to research, raising awareness of domestic violence issues and engaging with communities. To find out more about the Centre and the fantastic work being done please visit

Head of the CDFVR Associate Professor Annabel Taylor (second from left) with her colleagues at the centre's Mackay Headquarters. 

Monday, November 23, 2015

John Abbott to become CQUniversity's next Chancellor

I’d like to congratulate Mr John Abbott who has today been announced as the University’s new Chancellor, taking over from Mr Rennie Fritschy who will retire in March 2016 after more than 10 remarkable years in the role.

Professionally, John is an engineer and has held a number of senior management and corporate governance positions across industry sectors including power, oil & gas, minerals processing, mining, chemicals and engineering services. Through his work he has established a number of very strategic national and international contacts in places such as Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, USA, Europe and the Middle East.

John has also been involved with the University for more than three decades, first as a tutor at the then Capricornia Institute of Advanced Education and most recently as a member of our University Council.

Throughout the years John has shown his keen dedication to the University and during his tenure on Council  has contributed to the University’s current success. He is deeply committed to our continued growth and to ensuring the University achieves its Strong to Great vision. To this end, John is extremely enthusiastic about playing a lead role in making sure CQUniversity emerges as one of Australia’s truly great universities in the years ahead.

Having lived in regional Australia for most of the past 37 years, and currently based in Gladstone, John is also passionate about the role universities play in promoting and stimulating regional vitality and growth, and uncovering opportunities that will play a part in the advancement of regional communities. As part of this he has a keen interest in community and industry engagement, and creating valuable long-term partnerships that will contribute to greatness and opportunities for our students.

I am sure you will agree that John’s connection with the University and his wealth of experience, make him the ideal candidate to become the next chancellor of CQUniversity.
John Abbott will be officially installed as the third Chancellor of CQUniversity on 6 March, 2016. 

Please join with me in congratulating and welcoming our next chancellor on his appointment.

I also look forward to congratulating our current Chancellor Mr Rennie Fritschy and showcasing his tremendous record of achievements early next year in the lead-up to his official departure.   

Me pictured here with John Abbott, following the announcement of his appointment as CQUniversity's third Chancellor

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Robots and astronauts - not a Hollywood blockbuster just a regular day for @CQUni students

I just stumbled across two very cool videos while checking in to see what's been happening at CQUniversity. I won't go into too much detail as I think these clips can speak for themselves but I can't remember having this much fun when I was a uni student. 

With CQUniversity Engineering now offering a Mechatronics major, it seems an ideal time for some of the more advanced students to focus on related projects - robot legs and a robot hand.

While not exactly requiring an arm and a leg (more like a hand and a leg) to complete the projects, the students did put a lot of work into their creations, with the help of Engineering technical team members Ian Tomlinson, Simon Cumming and Troy Simpson.

Three CQUni Aviation students were also recently  tasked with testing a spacecraft module simulator before it was shipped to the Gold Coast to Gillmour Space Technologies.

According to CQUniversity’s Aviation Discipline Leader Ron Bishop, it was an exciting experience for the students.

The students worked with technicians from Gilmour Space Technologies to improve systems and operation of the spacecraft simulator. 

CQUniversity offers Aviation programs from Diploma through to Bachelor level out of its Bundaberg campus and online.

Graduates from the programs find employment in the aviation, aerospace and IT industries. The Bachelor program enables students to study topics such as aerodynamics, aircraft systems, meteorology, navigation, pilot licences and ratings, air service operations, flight services and handling emergencies.

Speech Pathology graduates have the final word

The first-ever cohort of Speech Pathology students from CQUniversity are about to graduate, but before they do, they are tackling some tough questions about the industry in which they will soon work.

This week the graduating class of just eight students made their final year research presentations to an audience of lecturers, family and industry representatives on topics such as ‘Recruiting speech pathologists for the future’, ‘Telehealth – the way of the future?’ and ‘Helping you help your children’. The first of the presentations resonated with the CQUni Speech Pathology staff who were also keen to learn more about strategies to recruit professionals to rural and regional areas.

Through their research, the students discovered that speech pathology students were more likely to stay and work where they graduate – a common trend in a lot of health professions. Therefore Speech Pathology students graduating from regional areas, such as Rockhampton, are more likely to seek employment in a regional or rural setting.

CQUniversity’s Bachelor of Speech Pathology (Honours) program is accredited with Speech Pathology Australia which enables graduates to practice as qualified speech pathologists upon graduating.

Speech pathology is practiced in a wide variety of settings – schools, hospitals, aged care facilities, universities, kindergartens, rehabilitation centres, private practice and mental health services.

The University’s four-year program requires students to gain competencies in a range of practice areas such as speech, language, fluency, voice, swallowing and multimodal communication, enabling them to work in a variety of settings.

Throughout the program students are also required to complete work placements in a range of settings, ensuring students are job-ready upon graduation. These include specifically designed clinics which operate out of CQUniversity’s own Health Clinic as well as work in private or public practice.  

Congratulations to our first graduates from the program. It is very exciting to think that your skills will now benefit communities across Australia and the World. 

Friday, October 30, 2015

Great news in CQUni Research - ARC results announced

CQUniversity researchers have gained more than $1.3 million worth of grants in the latest round of major announcements from the Australian Research Council.

The Discovery Project (DP) and Discovery Early Researcher Award (DECRA) grants will help computers better learn to classify what they see at a glance, put the teamwork into rail safety, boost chicken health on poultry farms, and help night workers to be more strategic about their sleep patterns.

The University is proud of the success of these researchers, based variously at the Adelaide, Brisbane and Rockhampton campuses, in what is a very competitive and prestigious ARC grant process. 

The successful CQUniversity projects are:

CQUniversity researchers Dr Charli Sargent, Associate Professor Gregory Roach and Professor Drew Dawson have been granted $310,000 over four years to study how sleep can be used strategically to cope with night work.

Dr Charli Sargent, Professor Drew Dawson and Assoc Prof Greg Roach

Providing beneficial strains of friendly gut bacteria at the time of hatching could improve poultry health and performance. That's according to CQUniversity's Dr Dana Stanley who has gained $360,000 over the next three years in a competitive bid to the Discovery Early Career Research Award (DECRA) process of the Australian Research Council.

CQUniversity researcher Dr Anjum Naweed will seek to develop a train driving risk model that includes human factors such as teamwork as well as technical considerations. He will do so thanks to a successful competitive bid for $373,536 over three years, from the Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) program of the Australian Research Council.

Helping computers learn better to classify what they see at a glance has many real-world applications such as document analysis, robotics and medical diagnosis. That's the goal of CQUniversity researcher Professor Brijesh Verma who has gained $275,000 over the next three years, thanks to a competitive bid to the Discovery Project program of the Australian Research Council.

Meanwhile in related news,  CQUniversity is involved in a major Australian Research Council grant team enabling power networks to cope with more roof-top solar generation. Professor Peter Wolfs, Adjunct Laureate Professor Qing-Long Han and Adjunct Associate Professor Fuwen Yang are all involved in the $330,000 project to be hosted by Griffith University, thanks to an ARC Discovery Project grant.

These are highly competitive, national grants, and they do not come easily, so well done to all those who were not just successful in gaining grants but so to those who developed submissions - a great deal of hard work goes into this so everyone should be congratulated. 

Now here are some stats on how CQUniversity stacked up against other institutions: 

Discovery Projects

Two successful research proposals funded – more than any other RUN university (with the exception of UNE, who also got two).

$587,600 in overall funding – the second highest among the RUN Universities.

A 25% success rate (the highest of any Queensland University, and the fourth best result in the sector).

Early Career Research Award

Two successful research proposals funded – more than any other RUN university.

$733,536 in overall funding – almost double the amount of the next closest RUN university.

A 33.3 percent success rate (once again the highest in Queensland AND the highest in the sector! The next closest university was the University of Adelaide at 25.5%).

Overall CQUni was the highest achieving RUN group university in this round and one of the best performers in Queensland. In fact pound-for-pound I think we performed better than the majority of universities out there. 

CQUniversity is emerging as a great Australian university because of the terrific outcomes being delivered right across the University. Today we have seen resounding evidence of this in our research results. 

Congratulations again to everyone involved, I am incredibly proud!


Congratulations to our 2015 Alumni award Winners

The many, many leadership roles carried out by our alumni cohort show the huge value of CQUniversity graduates to all our communities. I am thrilled to announce the winners of the 2015 Alumni Awards, celebrating four of our leading alumni, and the contribution they make in the CQUniverse.

My heartiest congratulations to Brian Babington – CEO of Families Australia and a strong advocate for the rights of some of the most vulnerable people in our communities, Dr Aleicia Holland – a young researcher solving pressing environmental problems, Joan Warner, CEO of Commercial Radio Australia, whose innovative leadership is impacting an entire industry, and Joel Buchholz, a passionate community member giving back his time and expertise in many volunteer roles.

Our alumni can contribute a huge amount to the student experience and business of the University as role models, mentors, and benefactors of our students, and public advocates of our institution. We should be extremely proud of the achievements of our alumni, and it is my pleasure to celebrate these four alumni award winners who exemplify outstanding career achievements and community service.

In the coming months, the award recipients will be honoured at CQUniversity Graduation ceremonies. In the meantime, please read more about their achievements below, and join me in admiring their impressive efforts.  

Monday, October 26, 2015

New quality indicators prove CQUni is emerging as a great uni

The Federal Government's new Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching (QILT) website shows how CQUniversity shines in providing study support and enabling good graduate employment and salary outcomes.

The website enables comparison of CQUniversity ratings against major university alliances, including the Group of Eight (Go8) coalition of leading Australian universities and the Australian Technology Network (ATN) collaborative group of five major universities. The results show that CQUniversity is delivering when it comes to successful outcomes for students and this is one of the reasons why CQUniversity is emerging as a great Australian university. 

Comparisons reveal:
  • CQUni's full-time employment of graduates rate higher than all Go8s
  • CQUni's study support rated higher than all Go8s
  • CQUni's full-time employment of graduates rate higher than all ATNs
  • CQUn's median salary for graduates higher than all ATNs
  • CQUni's study support rated higher than all ATNs

Comparisons of individual study areas reveal:
  • In Architecture & Building, CQUni had the highest full-time graduate employment rate (95.3%) and median salary ($69,000) of ALL universities
  • In Education, CQUni and JCU had the joint second highest full-time graduate employment rate of  86.8% (only beaten by QUT with 86.9%).
  • In Engineering, CQUni was in the Top 5 for full-time graduate employment and in the Top 3 for median salaries, nationally.
  • In Health Services & Support, CQUni was in the Top 4  for full-time graduate employment and median salaries, nationally.
  • In Computing & Information Systems, CQUni (tied with USC) was in the Top 4 for full-time graduate employment and Top 2 for median salaries, nationally.
These ratings reveal some great things for not just CQUniversity but for regional universities as well. It shows that regional unis have a vital part to play in shaping our nation and that our graduates are up to the task when in comes to making an impact on communities and industry. What's more many of these graduates are making that impact in regional Australia - where their skills and expertise is most needed. 

The Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching website at is independent and an excellent site for unbiased reporting. It provides prospective students with relevant and transparent information about Australian universities from the perspective of recent students and graduates.