ACU recognised for its Community Engagement programs

ACU has been named first runner-up in an international award for its community engagement programs, including a unique model which ensures every student can make a community contribution while at the university.

ACU placed second in the prestigious Engaged University of the Year category at the 2020 Asia-Pacific Triple E Awards for Entrepreneurship and Engagement Excellence in Higher Education. The announcement was made at an official award ceremony on Friday 10 January in Kochi, India.

ACU Pro Vice Chancellor (Engagement) Professor Sandra Jones said that commitment to community was central to ACU’s mission as a Catholic University.

“We are delighted to have been selected as a finalist for the Triple E Engaged University of the Year Award. At ACU, community engagement is central to our identity and our mission. We provide opportunities for all of our students and staff to participate in community engagement, and see this as integral to our teaching, learning and research.”

Hosted by the Accreditation Council for Entrepreneurial and Engaged Universities (ACEEU), the Triple E Awards are a global recognition of efforts towards the quest for entrepreneurship and engagement in higher education. Implemented regionally, the awards aim to foster change in universities and to emphasise their role in their communities and ecosystems.

ACU Vice President Father Anthony Casamento csma said community engagement informed all areas of the university for both staff and students.

“As a Catholic university, we are proud of the work of our staff and students in engaging with communities to make a real and substantive difference to their circumstances.  The recognition which comes with being named first runner up in the Engaged University of the Year award, serves to remind us of the centrality of community engagement in the DNA of ACU.”

For students, community engagement is one of the distinctive features of an ACU education. As part of its unique Core Curriculum, all students are required to participate in a community engagement unit.  Students are offered discipline-tailored community engagement units across more than 20 programs such as occupational therapy, education, business, social work, speech pathology, humanities and midwifery.

ACU also offers community engagement scholarship programs for undergraduate and postgraduate students and runs numerous community engagement programs in both local and overseas communities. These include Kicking Goals Together, run on our Brisbane campus, which provides a combined sporting and work skills program for youth from refugee and migrant backgrounds, and the ACU Thai-Burma Program, an innovative online Diploma in Liberal Arts program for students from refugee and migrant backgrounds living on the Thai-Myanmar border.

For staff, ACU has created a dedicated time-release policy to enable staff to undertake community engagement during working hours. The university promotes professional development related to university community engagement and prioritises community-engaged research and scholarship. ACU’s Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Community Engagement acknowledges staff who have made an outstanding contribution to ACU or the wider community through community engagement initiatives and have demonstrated their commitment to the university’s mission and values.

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