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Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic)

Professor Karen Nelson 
Professor Karen Nelson
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic)

Professor Karen Nelson


The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) has overall responsibility for the planning, quality and delivery of the University’s undergraduate and postgraduate teaching programs, and for achieving high-quality student outcomes. As head of the Academic Division, the position provides strategic direction, leadership and management of the functions of the Academic Division which comprises the Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences; Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts; Students Portfolio; Academic Transformation Portfolio; USQ College; and Library Services. 


Karen commenced at USQ in February 2019.  Prior to joining USQ, she was Pro Vice-Chancellor (Students) at the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC) and in this role she was responsible for transforming USC’s approach to student learning engagement, success and retention.  

A recognised authority in student engagement and retention and first-year experience, Professor Nelson’s research into the complex nature of the student experience has been instrumental in uncovering the factors influencing attrition and has advanced policy and practice nationally and internationally.  

Previously, Professor Nelson was Director of First Year Experience and Director of Student Success and Retention and held a series of traditional faculty-based academic roles at the Queensland University of Technology. 

Her contributions to higher education have been recognised by three national awards and in 2016 she was made Principal Fellow of the UK based Higher Education Academy.

Memberships and affiliations

As Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic), Professor Nelson represents USQ on the Universities Australia and Regional Universities Australia (RUN) DVC (Academic) groups. Professor Nelson is the chief editor of Student Success, an open access journal exploring the experiences of students in tertiary education. She has been a member of the organising committee, Chair or Co-chair of the annual Students, Transitions, Achievement, Retention & Success (STARS) Conference (and its predecessor FYHE conferences) for more than 12 years. Professor Nelson also serves the sector as an external expert for the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA).

Contact details

Phone: +61 7 4631 1160
Executive Assistant:
Kate Briggs 
Senior Executive Officer:
Kathy Pingel
Principal Advisor (Academic Governance and Standards):
Leanne Midgley