From the Vice Chancellor
UniSA enters new phase
2005 is the beginning of a new phase in the development of UniSA. We have always known that when the University began in 1991 we embarked upon a long term project – the development of university with international reach and impact. Last year, the excellent results of the AUQA audit which saw the University commended for its capacity to innovate and implement change provided us with clear evidence that we had the right frameworks and systems in place to move ahead in a very challenging national and international environment. Now we face the excitement and the adventure of acting to bring about rapid improvement in our performance in teaching, research and community engagement. We have worked to get the right institutional settings – now we must deliver the outcomes!
These institutional qualities of innovation, resilience and optimism which were commended last year will remain critical because, as this new year begins, the higher education landscape is again being reshaped. While the outcomes and impact of the national review of research funding are still unknown we can be sure that they will provide challenges for institutions like ours.
The Federal Minister has, too, announced the possibility of wide ranging changes in governance and industrial relations during 2005. Further, he has indicated his support for changes to the National Protocols which establish the definition of a university to allow teaching only universities and establishment of more private universities, while the South Australian government has begun a process to examine the feasibility of a fourth, private university in the state to attract fee paying Australian and international students. Finally, growth in international student numbers to Australia has slowed for the first time although UniSA's international student numbers here in South Australia continue to grow. Despite these uncertainties, I remain confident that UniSA will continue to innovate and prosper in the coming year.
As we enter this new phase one major initiative – the $135 million Blueprint 2005 capital development program – will be drawing to a close, or rather, will enjoy a new beginning! Blueprint 2005 has meant the construction of a number of new buildings on three of our four campuses as well as the refurbishment of existing buildings, landscaping works and infrastructure improvement. Staff and students are beginning the occupation of these new spaces and we will celebrate the success of the project in five opening ceremonies early in 2005.
While all of these things are important for our future, they seem relatively trivial when we look more broadly. A single event has captured the attention of the world since Boxing Day – the tsunami disaster in Asia and its consequences, personal and global. In an institution where almost a third of our students are international, the global becomes personal. The University community has, as always, responded with energy and compassion to this disaster. Donations to the various appeals have been generous and many people are now awaiting clarification of how they might assist longer term reconstruction in the region.
In light of this tragedy, we are reminded of the unpredictability and
impermanence of all things. As we face another year of change in our work
and our world, I wish you all the very best for 2005. I look forward to
another productive, successful and exciting year for the University of South