Busselton’s first university campus

The development of Busselton’s first university campus is the result of a combination of factors, according to Central Queensland University’s Study Hub Coordinator Angela Bancilhon.

“The growing relationship between CQUniversity, the City of Busselton and the wider community has made this possible,” she said.

The CQUniversity Busselton Regional Advisory Group provided the support necessary for CQUniversity to gain traction. This group is comprised of some former members of the Capes Region Higher Education Task Force who have been driving the agenda for higher education opportunities in the region for the past eight years.

The work of Nola Marino and the task force was instrumental in CQUniversity developing a presence in Busselton.

Former deputy mayor Tom Tuffin, who was on the task force, provided Angela with important background material, while Helen Shervington provided guidance in helping her get established.

“Tom gave me the minutes and reports generated by the Capes Region Higher Education Task Force, which had done a lot of the pre-work to attracting a university presence in Busselton,” Angela said.

“One of the things Helen said, which I took on board very quickly, was that I needed a vision for the future of CQUniversity in the region and how it could evolve. This is just the start. I believe we can create something here which is very special. This can be a great example of how universities and communities work together.

“Peter Gordon, chairman of the CQUniversity Regional Advisory Group, emphasised the importance of getting together with local leaders. The advisory group evolved very organically and has made my job much easier. Support from the City of Busselton was also integral in assisting us to lay foundations in the region.

“The Capes Region has high population growth and significant economic development; higher education needs to be part of that.” Angela said there were some very big points of differences between CQU and other universities.

“We are in the top two per cent of universities worldwide and have a big focus on technology and innovation, particularly social innovation.

“We have a strong focus on supporting regional and remote Australian communities. Our core values emphasise that we are a university for everyone. We measure our greatness as a university based on the people we include rather than who we exclude.” CQUniversity offers STEPS (Skills for Tertiary Education Preparatory Studies) a university bridging course that can assist students enter into and excel at university.

For people who do not already hold an undergraduate qualification, and are 18 years of age or older, completion of STEPS can provide a pathway into the academic course they would like to enter.

“What’s great about studying with CQUniversity is the range of courses we offer. We have over 300 courses in both the TAFE and university sector. Digital technology and video conferencing facilities enable our students and lecturers to link up all around Australia,” Angela said.

CQU has 25 locations across Australia and employs over 2000 staff. Many of the courses offered are available fully by distance. Some courses have residential schools in which students can access the practical component of their course over a condensed time period. While, at this stage, residential schools are held on the east coast of Australia there may be future opportunities to hold residential schools in the West.

One of the courses CQU is looking to promote initially is its Bachelor of Digital Media. Angela said the digital revolution had dramatically changed the way we work, learn, play and communicate. The course’s flexible structure allowed students to focus on their individual strengths and interests by pursuing specialisations in Graphic Design, Interactive Media, Video and Animation, or a combination of those areas. They are skills which will continue to be in demand in the future with multiple employment possibilities.

Employment opportunities for graduates with relevant creative and technical expertise could be found in areas such as web design, graphic design, publishing, photography, illustration, animation, game development, software development, video production, film and television, marketing, journalism, corporate communications, education and training.

A growing proportion of digital entrepreneurs in the region operate businesses with a national and/or international customer base. There is also a growing number of teleworkers based in the South West who work for employers remotely.

With over 35,000 students nationally CQUniversity also offer courses for people already established in the workforce who would like to take their careers to the next level.

“Our MBA program is recognised internationally and in 2017, CEO Magazine ranked CQU’s MBA in the top Tier 1 level for all Australian MBAs,” Angela said. “We also offer customised professional development courses through our Centre for Professional Development.” FIFO workers are also catered for. Courses in asset and maintenance management are already quite popular. The development of these courses has been in response to a strong and clearly-voiced demand from industry. CQU’s Graduate Certificate in Asset and Maintenance Management aimed to produce graduates who understood asset management principles, maintenance philosophies, strategies and processes.

This qualification is highly regarded by industry as reflected by the increasing requirement for maintenance engineering/ maintenance management qualifications in the selection criteria for many vacancies in the maintenance management field.

CQUniversity has five star ratings in terms of employment outcomes and median graduate salaries. Part of the reason for this is CQU’s strong links to industry.

“This is demonstrated by our co-location with the Busselton Chamber of Commerce & Industry in the newly refurbished CQUniversity building. This will generate synergies between CQUniversity and local industry and lead to future opportunities for our students,” Angela said.

Source: Busselton Dunsborough Times.