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!


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