I want to welcome everyone to the 2018 academic year which is now in full swing across all our campuses in Australia and at our partner campuses internationally.
Image: CSU Instagram @charlessturtuni
This week all Australian and many international universities attended the Universities Australia 2018 Conference in Canberra. The Conference theme was ‘Future Fundamentals’ and we had some great sessions on how higher education and universities are changing with the impacts of new technology and globalisation. The way we interact and learn is changing as we adopt technology and the world becomes more connected. I think we also heard quite a bit of nostalgia about the way universities used to be and concern about whether the future will be as good. Personally, I’m optimistic about the future – and the present – the world has changed and we have to change with it.
It also made me think about my own experiences with education. I was very lucky to be part of the generation that went through university education in the UK when there were no tuition charges and with living support for all. Many people have nostalgia for the social side of University and I have to admit I enjoyed that too! However, I realise what I really enjoyed and valued was the opportunity to learn knowledge, develop skills and form attitudes that would allow me to become a fully-fledged professional, make a good living for myself and work to make the world a better place. That to me was the most important thing and that is why I left engineering practice to become an academic – I wanted to be help others have that same experience. Charles Sturt University in my opinion does this job of preparing students for a life and professional career particularly well and, as we have the highest graduate employment rate of any Australian public university, I think our performance speaks for itself.
Learning is a process of challenge. If we are to build our knowledge and understanding we have to engage with ideas that are difficult, challenging and sometimes disagreeable. Unless we test our ideas and understanding we cannot learn and we cannot decide for ourselves what is right, what are the truths of which we are certain, what we need to change and what we need to work harder to understand. That is why the freedom to speak and express ideas is such an important part of the Australian university tradition. Only by engaging with others and testing our own understanding and theirs can we learn and grow.
I mentioned globalisation earlier on. Some see this as a challenge but as a nation, as a higher education sector and as a University we have gained enormously through our engagement with other nations and from having students studying with us from (and in) other countries as part of our CSU community. The opportunity to understand another culture and learn to work with people from different backgrounds is one of the most important 21st Century skills. It is one of our key Graduate Learning Outcomes and we are working to provide this for all of our students. Our international university partners play a huge role in helping us ensure our students become truely global citizens and we greatly value these long standing (and new) relationships.
So, I send a very warm welcome to our students wherever you are studying with us; whether on campus in Australia, at one of our international partners or online (or all three, as many of you do through your degrees).
Just recently, the Minister for Education, Senator the Honorable Simon Birmingham, sent a message to international students welcoming them to Australian universities. I would like to echo this message and welcome our international students to CSU in 2018. Enjoy your time with us, work hard, make friends and make sure you have fun along the way. I look forward to seeing you all at graduation; whether in Australia or at one of our many international ceremonies. But more importantly, I look forward to you contributing to the CSU ethos and living well in a world worth living in.
I wish everyone an safe and successful 2018.