Student choices

Published: Thursday 24th November 2016

Photo of ACU Associate Vice-Chancellor Brisbane Professor Jim Nyland.

A message from the Associate Vice-Chancellor Brisbane Professor Jim Nyland: I wish to highlight two important developments that have happened at ACU Brisbane in recent weeks that reflect the priorities of our existing and incoming students.

Firstly, QTAC have just distributed their application information and it’s looking good for ACU Brisbane – we have had the largest increase in first preferences in our history and are the stand-out of all nine Queensland universities with an increase of 13.4% in first preferences, and an increase of 16% in all preferences for 2016/17.  This is the first time that we have outperformed every other university across the state in this index. In an age of popular risings, evidenced by Corbyn, Hansen, Brexit and Trump, with little concern for the hollowing out of traditional communities that they seek to disrupt and leave without supports, this index reminds that universities are not immune to the contagion of merciless democratic judgements (in our case by discerning students who vote with their feet) – just ask Southern Cross University who have experienced a 34% decline in first preferences with all of the aftershock this entails.

ACU Brisbane has demonstrated that it can compete and win in a highly competitive Queensland market and whilst this is the result of a massive team effort, I would like to take this opportunity to particularly recognize and thank all staff on the Brisbane campus (there are 938 live McAuley at Banyo staff emails – so that’s all of you!), who have sought to re-invent our critical and defining role, that of the promotion and fostering of learning which demonstrates real relevance for a new generation in new and different ways. This reputation has been successfully carved out over a period of years.

It is the student voice and choice that continues to reshape the higher education landscape in Australia and we need to listen to it intently. One of the key things students tell us they want from their university is that they be fully engaged with their world and society at large - which leads me to the second important development.  ACU Brisbane said thank you and goodbye to an exceptional leader of university community engagement in the first of a series of University campus farewells for Professor Jude Butcher. It is hard to overestimate the enormous influence that Jude has had on how ACU delivers its engagement agenda, since its inception and also in its formative years. To quote one of our very best academic leaders that Jude had mentored over many years, Dr Matthew Pink, whose program ‘Kicking Goals Together’ was recently acknowledged in the VC’s Community Engagement Awards,

“Jude has been a fantastic influence on the way that ACU Brisbane does community engagement. That is, in a way that leads from the core of the University mission and is based upon non-hierarchical relationships, and mutually beneficial outcomes. I guess the best way to put it is that community engagement is something that you can easily get wrong, and it can become more about ticking boxes and promotion than true mutuality or reciprocity. Jude is someone who has led the way in remaining grounded in what true community engagement is.  On a personal level, Jude has been a great friend to me, and an even greater mentor. I know that through his guidance I have personally transformed in my understanding of relationships and my ability to work with others. This influence then echoes in my work, and I am very hopeful that perhaps I can have similar influences on others…he reminds us all to take a step back and reflect. When we take the time to do this, we can usually then discover ways forward that are inclusive and truly serve the mission.  For Jude to retire is a great loss to the University, however, I am certain that he has left a legacy that will continue to echo through the campus at Brisbane [and beyond].”

Thank you.

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