Wednesday, March 23, 2016

CQUniversity - Australia's first Changemaker Campus

I am absolutely thrilled to finally share the news with you that CQUniversity has officially been recognised as a Changemaker Campus by global social innovation group Ashoka U!

This is an incredibly exciting development for CQUniversity as we are the first and only Australian university to join this prestigious group. In fact, there are only two Changemaker Campuses in the Asia Pacific Region – us and the Singapore Management University.

To provide a bit more background, the Ashoka U Changemaker Campus consortium is a dynamic, global network of leading colleges and universities who commit to advancing social innovation at their campus and beyond. These institutions collaborate with each other to break down barriers to institutional change and foster a campus-wide culture of social innovation. The group is made up of only 30 institutions around the world including Arizona State University, Brown University, Duke University and Singapore Management University. 

Social innovation is a concept that seeks to find innovative and sustainable solutions to social needs or problems. There are many definitions of the concept but ultimately the philosophy is driven by the simple need to improve lives and create positive change within the world around us – something that many of us are already doing without even realising.

Our acceptance into this exclusive group comes following a rigorous two year selection process that assessed CQUniversity’s social innovation credentials, plans and corporate values. Our focus on social innovation and becoming a Changemaker Campus is a natural extension to the University’s values of inclusiveness and engagement, and our mission to create connections across our local, national and international footprint for the mutual benefit of the University and our valued stakeholders – whether that’s in Melbourne, Mt Isa, or Mumbai.

At CQUniversity, we have always been engineers of profound social change – this includes activities such as the delivery of distance education (something we started doing almost half a century ago), research and program design that is informed by engagement with community and industry, the delivery of access education, and providing students with multiple opportunities to engage with the world around them. Put simply, social innovation is about helping our people answer the question “How can I change the world?” 

The solution requires entrepreneurialism, innovation, creativity and audacity to do things differently. It is the sheer boldness and creativity of our approach to education that gives CQUniversity its identity, and it is simply extraordinary that we have captured the imagination of the Ashoka U network of Changemaker Campuses. This is an achievement we should all be extremely proud of!

To learn more about our social innovation agenda and Ashoka U please go to and

Monday, March 7, 2016

A celebration of past achievements and those still to come – Farewell Rennie and welcome aboard John!

We celebrate a significant milestone this week at CQUniversity, as we officially farewell our current Chancellor Mr Rennie Fritschy and welcome our new Chancellor Mr John Abbott.

Rennie has served the CQUniversity as Chancellor for 12 years and during his tenure he has made a fantastic contribution to the University and the Central Queensland community.

It was during Rennie’s tenure that we embarked upon the Strong to Great agenda. This ambitious plan for reinvigoration and renewal was completely driven by a philosophy of engagement with our local communities. What the Central Queensland region told us was simple; the region needed to diversify its economic reliance on traditional industries and that we needed to act to with urgency to overcome worsening workplace shortages – particularly within the healthcare sector. To do this we needed to switch more people – especially young people within our regions, on to post-school education and close the gap that existed between metropolitan and regional university participation rates - particularly among recent school leavers and students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The University set out to deliver on this social charter and acted upon it as if it were a crisis situation. In the years that followed the University introduced dozens of new programs and reinvented existing courses. To support this more than $200 million dollars has been invested in refreshing existing facilities and building new ones, and we also increased our investment in research, student support, technology and learning and teaching quality.

The University also welcomed the history-making merger with CQ TAFE in 2014, which is arguably one of the most significant things to happen in the history of education and training in Queensland. This move also meant we could work across the entire spectrum of post-school education and create synergies between vocational and tertiary education.

More than five years after we embarked on this journey the results are becoming clear. CQUniversity has grown to become one of the largest regional universities in Australia, with more than 30,000 students currently enrolled. We now also have the largest geographical footprint of any other university in the country, with 24 delivery sites including campuses, study centres and partnerships with third party university centres in Western Australia and New South Wales.

Best of all though, we are Australia’s most inclusive university, with the highest percentages of students from low socio-economic, first-in-family, mature age and Indigenous backgrounds. Importantly CQUniversity now has one of the highest domestic student growth rates in Australia (with 40 percent growth in the last seven years).
This is all great news for CQUniversity but it is also great news for the community as this success has and will continue to drive broader social change. Already we have witnessed the first wave of new health professionals graduate and enter the workforce – many of whom have taken jobs in Central Queensland or within regional and remote communities across Australia. And we are starting to see equity emerge with regards to university participation rates in the CQ region, compared to that of the cities. More of our young people are embarking on securing a trade or a university qualification!

We will continue to witness the positive effects of this strategy for many years to come and we must thank Rennie for his contribution and vision related to this. Rennie, on behalf of everyone at CQUniversity and the Central Queensland region I would like to thank you for this valuable contribution!

Personally, I would also like to thank you for being a fantastic friend and mentor. I hope your retirement heralds an exciting new chapter in your life and I wish you and Noelene all the very best for a happy future.

And to our new Chancellor, Mr John Abbott, I look forward to working with you starting from next Monday. You have already made a considerable contribution to the University over many, many years, first with your involvement at CIAE and now as a member of Council, so I have no doubt you will continue to influence positive outcomes for the University. The most exciting thing though, is that you will provide leadership to the University during our next phase of growth and importantly play an instrumental role in CQUniversity emerging as one of Australia’s great universities.