We brought our ideas and vision for UNE together and what emerged was an ambitious document in the form of the Strategic Plan 2011-2015.
The priorities and strategies of the Plan have been intrinsic to everything the University has delivered and striven for this year.
The Strategic Plan will take us through a very challenging time in the University sector, a time we are aiming to emerge from stronger and more competitive as a result of our strategic initiatives.
In pursuit of this goal we have formed a commercial arrangement with Pearson Australia to improve and enhance our online offerings, we will introduce Trimesters in a range of courses in 2012, and we have entered into an early entry partnership agreement with the University of Sydney. We have also entered into an agreement with University of Western Sydney to provide their distance education units in 2012. These units will be given pre-approved standing towards UWS degrees.
We were given a competitive advantage in May with the switching-on of the National Broadband Network in Armidale.
At the official launch in May the Prime Minister said “The NBN will end the tyranny of distance between rural and regional Australia and our capital cities, literally changing the way Australians live and work.”
We have been working hard to exploit this game-changing technology by establishing a partnership with University of California’s Irvine Medical School to give UNE Medical students access to state-of-the-art learning technology via broadband connections. Our Smarter Safer Homes, QuickSmart and Smart Farm initiatives are also utilising this technology to improve learning outcomes for the community.
UNE’s role in creating a strong regional community in New England was also on show at the Regional Futures Summit earlier this year, which was attended by the Minister for Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government Simon Crean and Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Senator Stephen Conroy.
Research at UNE was given a major fillip with $4.8 million from the Commonwealth Government’s Collaborative Research Network (CRN) fund.
UNE in collaboration with five partners has begun recruiting for the CRN for Mental Health and Wellbeing in rural regions and it will be officially launched next year.
Last week we received an early Christmas present in the form of $36.6 million in Structural Adjustment Funding.
This funding will allow UNE to convert more of our courses to an online format – currently only 5% of courses are fully online- and to establish a future campus in Parramatta. It will allow us to upgrade our IT systems, and implement partnerships with other higher education and VET providers.
As I said at the beginning it has been an eventful year for UNE but it has also been a productive year.
The changes that we are putting in place have required hard work across the University. But I am convinced that the changes and initiatives put in place will leave the University in a strong position.
Compliments of the season and my best wishes to you all.
Vice-Chancellor and CEO