The University of New England's foundational promise to support the regions was on full display this week, when three major conferences brought in more than 500 visitors to discuss the future of agricultural research.
The flood of visitors, nearly 40 per cent of them from interstate or overseas, injected a conservatively-estimated $500,000 into the Armidale region.*
"This week's conferences highlighted UNE's position as a national and world-class agricultural research institute, and showcased our capacity to host three concurrent conferences," said UNE Vice-Chancellor and CEO, Professor Brigid Heywood.
"The conferences also discussed themes – animal nutrition, animal genetics and cotton production – vitally important to the prosperity of our region, and to Australia regional communities in general."
"The conversations that have been held at UNE this week will help to guide research in these areas for years to come."
The Association For The Advancement Of Animal Breeding And Genetics conference was first held at UNE 40 years ago, and has been hosted by the University every two years since. This year's AAABG conference attracted about 200 researchers, breeders and other specialists.
Since the first AAABG conference, UNE and the NSW Department of Primary Industries have made the University a world-renowned centre for livestock research. As the headquarters the Beef, Sheep and Poultry CRCs, Sheep Genetics, the Agricultural Business Research Institute (ABRI) and the Animal Genetics and Breeding Unit (AGBU), and other research programs, UNE has continually drawn visitors from around the country and the world.
The Recent Advances in Animal Nutrition conference was also conceived at UNE 40 years ago, and has since brought an influx of visitors to the University and the New England every second year. The 2019 conference attracted about 120 people to discuss the interface of the commercial and research aspects of animal nutrition.
The Australian Association of Cotton Scientists (AACS) 2019 Australian Cotton Research Conference drew about 200 delegates to review the current state of cotton research across a broad range of themes – among them cotton production and processing, water use, the industry's social licence and grower mental health under challenging conditions.
"UNE was founded as Australia's first regional university in 1954 with the aspiration of putting Higher Education and targeted research capacity within reach of the New England and Northern NSW communities it is situated within," Professor Heywood said.
"Sixty-five years later, the University continues to meet its original brief."
* Estimate of value to Armidale is calculated by multiplying the number of visitors by the number of nights spent in Armidale, by Tourism Research's 2018 estimate that an overnight stay (accommodation + spend) is worth $284 per person per night to the Armidale Local Government Area.
Across the three UNE conferences, 520 people stayed three nights (total 1560 nights) and 200 people stayed an extra night (total 1760 nights). 1760 x $284 = $500,000.