The contribution and importance of the Canberra Campus (Signadou) to Canberra, the Australian Capital Territory and surrounding regions is significant.
The Campus hosts close to 90 full-time equivalent (FTE) staff and 600 EFTSL students who are studying across a range of fields. It is the home of the Public Policy Institute, Catholic welfare agency CatholicCare Canberra and Goulburn, and the Institute of Child Protection Studies, and it continues to play a pivotal role in serving Catholic health, Catholic education and Catholic welfare.
Over the years, however, student numbers have not grown as anticipated; operation costs have risen; competition in the Canberra marketplace has intensified; and the buildings and infrastructure are in urgent need of upgrading.
It is clear that the old model is no longer working – this was confirmed by the Signadou Review Panel in 2011.
We need a new model for the Canberra Campus. A model that will ensure it can continue to contribute to, and support, the Canberra and broader community for many years to come.
This will require more than a tweak to academic programs: it will require a complete rethink about how the Campus currently operates. And it can only succeed with full engagement from the academic, staff, student, and Catholic communities.
As of September 2012, I have appointed an Acting Pro Vice-Chancellor, David Craig, who will be responsible for the Canberra project. He will be acting for the Vice-Chancellor and has the full capacity to not only conduct the planning around this project but to execute and implement that plan. He will be working closely with the Consultation Group and, crucially, the Campus Dean, Associate Professor Patrick McArdle, throughout this process.
The underlying aim of this project is to identify Signadou’s strengths and develop those strengths so the campus can become sustainable. This will require a range of investments: financial, intellectual, academic – and it needs your support to succeed.
Over the coming months, the Acting Pro Vice-Chancellor will spend significant time on Canberra Campus, meeting regularly with the Consultation Group; there will be several consultations held with the ACU community; and open communication will be maintained with all involved, including Signadou’s key partners.
I expect the process to move quite swiftly: we have conducted a review, we have analysed that review, and we’re quite clear on what we need to do. Preliminary work has already commenced on developing a new vision for Canberra and I would expect a plan to be finalised by the end of the year.
The decision has been taken that we want Canberra to succeed. Under the leadership of the Acting Pro Vice-Chancellor, I have complete confidence that together we can formulate a plan that will secure a sustainable future for Signadou.