Floods, Conferences and Communication

Two major themes for last week- disruption caused by flooding and  the Universities Australia Conference

Flooding from the unusually heavy rainfall caused various kinds of disruption last week, with the closure of the Wagga Wagga campus for one day.  My thoughts go out to communities now coping with the clean-up in Wagga and elsewhere. If the post-Cyclone Yasi experience is anything to go by, this is a tough time when the adrenaline of the disaster threat has passed, but there’s a lot of tedious mucky work to do in putting things back to where they were.

The worst that happened to me was not being able to visit CSU’s Albury Campus and a diversion through Grenfell and Forbes on the way back to Bathurst which was actually a nice thing to do.  Back in Bathurst, to borrow a joke of my late father-in-law’s, the road to Sydney was cut leaving the State Capital temporarily isolated but we understand they survived this OK.

The Universities Australia Conference was held in Canberra last week and featured addresses from Senators Evans http://tinyurl.com/6tz2wxr and Mason on Labor and Coalition higher education policy.  Under Labor, things will continue more or less as they are and the Government is pleased with the increase in student enrolments, particularly in regional areas.

Brett Mason http://tinyurl.com/7zn3xr4 was characteristically frank and, whilst it is clear that there would be changes under the Coalition, it is not yet clear what.  Senator Mason identified the three factors as  (1) quality and standards, (2) increased participation and (3) funding.  He is of the view that all three can’t continue as they are and that the Coalition would prioritise quality and standards.  It is not yet clear what else this might mean.

I chaired a session on Public Perceptions of Regional Universities which was well attended and seemed to go well. The final session of the conference was a Gruen Transfer style ‘The Pitch’ on selling higher education.  This had a hilarious introduction by Dan Gregory and two excellent pitches from the agencies.  In amongst the jokes though was the serious message that universities need to be creative and courageous in presenting themselves to the community.

Final comments are about this blog, my twitter feed and CSU’s new TV advert.  @KateMfD asked why VC’s tweet or blog?  Not sure if there is a generic answer, but a quick sketch of my job is to facilitate CSU to be the best it can be, to promote the university externally and to encourage innovation.  I think we need to embrace social media as a university if we are to stay relevant so I think I need to model that behaviour.  On the assumption that they can be useful means of communication, that ticks the first two boxes.  I’m going to be interested to see how this works out; these are my posts and my tweets so there will be a limit to the rate of transmission and ability to engage.

So, will finish by mentioning the TV advert that’s running across our regions at present http://fb.me/1snlJwZgU.  This is about raising the profile of CSU generally; one of the bits of feedback from the brand survey work last year was that we didn’t get out there and celebrate our achievements enough.  A TV advert is only one mechanism, but on previous experience it can be a very effective means of doing this.  Hope you enjoy it, look forward to hearing from you.

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