AVC Brisbane Update

Published: Wednesday 24th September 2014

Real and relevant learning in ACU's changing university campus.

The strategic vision and direction for the University has been clearly laid out to senior leaders across the University in the VC’s Address delivered at the recent ACU Leadership Retreat .  The prime concerns are to implement the transition from growth to ‘establishment, enhancement and excellence’ – that is, to ‘establish’ our share of the expanded, demand driven student market, to ‘enhance’ our academic strengths and specialisms and to achieve ‘excellence’ in chosen areas of research.

ACU’s Brisbane Campus is both an integral part of the whole Australian Catholic University and an identifiable entity serving our people and region in ways which are specific to our history, our economy, our culture and our aspirations. ACU’s national needs and perspectives are necessarily wide and embrace diversity as well as commitment to a common ethos and set of core values. The emphasis on unity in diversity allows the specific and detailed aspects of ACU Brisbane‘s qualities and characteristics to come to the fore as we look to achieve excellence across all our areas of mission.

A number of factors have shaped recent perceptions of what could be done in ACU Brisbane to support the new triple ‘e’ strategy. These include:

  • the specific growth and development of our curriculum areas and professional  learning in our local and regional economy
  • the drive to achieve excellence in our chosen areas of research within our newly established Institutes that seek to produce real and relevant research for the communities that we serve
  • the need to know and research ACU Brisbane student expectations and behaviours in relation to choice of subjects and careers paths offered
  • campus and potential off-campus growth and the footfall across Queensland
  • evidence of student choice and the student voice from the wider university sector
  • the significance ACU Brisbane has for the wider Australian debate on the future of university education as we enter a more privatised and competitive agora.

The AVC Office in Brisbane is sponsoring a major research project that will seek to capture the student voice about these critical issues that are framing the debate about the future of higher education over the lifetime of our new triple ‘e’ strategic plan – spanning out to 2020 and beyond. The crucial themes will seek ACU student views on the following 5 sets of issues and challenges:

  1. University life as an adaptive response to the failures of some social market models, which has involved the growth of mass higher education, the marketisation of learning and growth of demand-led provision, the emergence of mass , on-line learning – only this week Wharton Business School has offered a number of its MBA courses online to all, at no charge - and a sense of permanent re-structuring of universities and their staff.
  2. The campus response to the emergence of work as a key site of learning and accreditation and of work itself as a “principle” of learning and opportunity.
  3. The impact of digital  and new literacies on the future of University programs -which involve new skills of personal performance, multi-tasking across different media, transmedia navigations , distributed cognition and the role of digital networking- on university campus life , study and achievement.
  4. The possible future for university campuses- which might include the need for a curriculum more relevant to people’s lives, a revised approach to access and widening participation and universities as a motor for renewal and rejuvenation.
  5. Global developments of interest to our students - including  the hollowing out of traditional economies and communities ,creation of  mass migration , de-skilling of traditional labour markets ,a rapid pace of change , a vulnerable ecology and de-stabilised and more security conscious communities.

Listening intently and understanding deeply our student voice is the crucial starting point to the debate about the future of universities as we enter uncharted waters.  The findings of this major research project which is now under way will be presented at the Blessing, Naming and Launch of our fabulous Saint John Paul ll building on March 16 2015.  I look forward to welcoming many of you to view our newly established, enhanced and excellent campus at this time.


Professor Jim Nyland

AVC (Brisbane)