UQ poised to make pivotal changes to the university experience
The University of Queensland is making pivotal changes to the way higher education is imagined and experienced.
Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Peter Høj recently announced a five-year program of initiatives “at the forefront of the learning revolution” designed to equip UQ graduates to be enterprising and to excel in the new-world workplace.
“The program is designed to deliver innovations and new initiatives in graduate employability, student facilities as well as integrated digital learning technologies, more flexible study options, and broader support for students and graduates including for those who wish to start their own business,” Professor Høj said.
He said the university needed to adapt and innovate to equip students with the skills to compete in fluid, globalised and highly technological work environments.
“Like other sectors, the higher education sector is being transformed and we want to ensure we are at the forefront of the learning revolution required to ensure we deliver enterprising graduates who are geared for the new-world international workplace,” Professor Høj said.
“Enhancing the student experience is one of the most significant ways the university can support our students to create change in themselves and in the world around them.
“We want students to have more control over what, when and how they study, with more advice, technologies and opportunities at their fingertips than ever before to support their priorities and career ambitions.
“They will have access to a blend of on-campus and online learning, greater international opportunities and mentoring, and a dynamic curriculum created in partnership with industry and students to ensure they graduate with the confidence and insight to turn their career aspirations into reality.
“UQ already holds a place among the world’s top fifty universities. One hundred per cent of UQ’s research has been ranked at world standard or above in Australia’s national assessment of research quality, and our dedicated staff have won more national teaching awards than any other Australian university. Our aim is to combine these strengths with this significant investment, to create a truly transformational student experience.”
The initiatives have been bundled into four categories:
- Initiatives include expanded programs and support to enhance workplace integration and employability, on-campus idea accelerators, multi-disciplinary courses for creating change, and extended opportunities for global experiences and network building.
- Initiatives include more flexible study options, new course options to complement advanced digital learning resources, personalised online learning tracking to provide real-time data and analytics on learning progress, and a move to a trimester system for some programs.
Dynamic people and partnerships
- Initiatives include a partnership with students in learning and decision-making, a mentor program, a move toward increasing the engagement of students in world-class research, a comprehensive professional development program for staff, investment in academic support through digital delivery tools and contemporary content design, and increased partnerships with industry.
An integrated learning environment
- Initiatives include the development of the campus precinct—most notably the $251-million, 1300-bed student housing project; increased and enhanced student spaces for individual and group learning, rest and socialising; renewed IT infrastructure; an on-campus support hub; and an online support hub that offers 24/7 access.
The UQ Student Strategy was developed with input from more than 7,000 students, as well as from UQ staff, teachers, industry representatives and employers.
It will be rolled out between now and 2020, with planning for the new 1300-bed student precinct at the St Lucia campus already underway.
The plan underpins UQ’s commitment to provide graduates with the best possible opportunities and experiences to create change not only in their own lives, but also in the world around them.
Professor Høj said every aspect of the strategy had been designed to help students prepare for an ever-changing working landscape by developing richer perspectives and more critical ways of thinking to challenge the status quo.
“Students are preparing for careers that either don’t exist yet or at least will change dramatically,” Professor Høj said.
“By putting these changes into place now, we are ensuring the UQ student experience is designed to inspire the next generation of lateral thinkers and creative problem-solvers who can evolve, innovate and adapt.
“Graduate employability is our number-one priority, and we want to ensure UQ graduates maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace at graduation and beyond.”