Educational opportunities for University of Southern Queensland students have been boosted following the signing of a landmark Accord in Ballarat.
In an Australian first, a group of regional universities will collaborate in a range of new ways, greatly expanding the choices available to students and staff.
Regional Universities Network (RUN) Vice-Chancellors, including USQ Vice-Chancellor Professor Jan Thomas, signed a multilateral Accord formalising the collaboration in a ceremony at the University of Ballarat yesterday.
The network’s members are University of Southern Queensland, CQUniversity, Southern Cross University, University of Ballarat, University of New England, and University of the Sunshine Coast.
Professor Thomas said the signing marked an exciting new direction for USQ in which students and staff stood to benefit in a wide range of areas.
The Accord will be a framework for the group of universities to collaborate in teaching and learning, regional policy development, research and research training, and international activities.
Professor Thomas said it would also cover joint appointments, multi-badged degrees, credit transfer arrangements for students, internal staff vacancies and professional development activities.
“This is a significant day in the history of USQ,” the Vice-Chancellor said.
“With the signing of this Accord USQ’s staff and students will have access to a far greater pool of resources.
“Regional Australia, through universities such as USQ, can play a leading role in our national productivity.
“One third of Australians live in regional areas, but educational attainment is much lower in regional Australia than in the capital cities. Unlocking the talent of the regions through improved educational outcomes is vital to Australia achieving its full capacity.”
The Chair of RUN, Professor David Battersby, said the Accord would enable the universities to partner in a range of activities.
“RUN recognises the competitive and changing world educational environment. The Accord gives us a streamlined way to respond to it,” Professor Battersby said.
“One of the Accord’s aims is to boost the range of courses available to regional students by pooling teaching resources. Course units available at one university can be offered via distance education to others, broadening the scope of offerings available in a cost-effective manner.
“It will enable us to enhance the role we play in our communities, raise the aspiration of regional students for tertiary education, build human capital in the regions, and further contribute to the economic, social and cultural development of our communities.”
While in Ballarat, Professor Thomas will also be participating in the ABC News 24 Future Forum, during which she will debate the pressing issues in Higher Education in front of an informed audience.
The Future Forum will go to air on ABC News 24 at 8.30pm on Sunday, December 9.
The full text of the Accord is available at www.run.edu.au/resources/run_accord_19nov2012.pdf.
More information about the progress being made with RUN collaborations is available at www.run.edu.au/resources/run_accord_progress.pdf
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Jim Campbell, USQ Media, email@example.com, 07 4631 2977