Message to the JCU community following the acquisition of the minority shareholding in JCU Singapore – May 24, 2011
Yesterday after many months – or even years – the final arrangements were completed for the University to acquire the minority shareholding in JCU Singapore.
This means that it is now fully owned by JCU and we have not only acquired a very valuable asset with substantial growth potential, but we have truly become a University of and for the tropics with three tropical campuses – Cairns, Singapore and Townsville.
It is the first step on the road to fully embrace Singapore and eventually move to one totally integrated university across the three tropical city campuses.
The minority shareholding was acquired from TUV SUD/PSB. Originally a government owned corporation, PSB was acquired in 2006 by TUV SUD, a German based company.
The acquisition is being financed using bank finance obtained in Singapore through a new wholly-owned JCU company James Cook Holdings Pte Ltd, which is incorporated in Singapore.
JCU was a minority partner when JCU Singapore was established in 2003 with 50 students and occupied several floors in the SPRING Singapore Building. The following year JCU moved to major shareholder and in 2008 due to expanding student numbers moved to its own campus in Upper Thomson Rd.With more than 2000 students in 2011 it needs to seek further space or a second campus and negotiations are already underway.
Developing our Singapore operation offers to give life to a new type of internationalisation and the opportunity to create a genuine expression of international engagement and global reach.Instead of ‘doing’ international in various places, international becomes an integral dimension of JCU through these three campuses.It brings Singapore, both city and campus, into the powerful an enduring aim of our University: to deliver a brighter future for life in the tropics worldwide.
This fully integrated vision for JCUS makes sensible the full acquisition of JCUS by the University. However, acquisition alone is not enough to achieving this vision.Instead, realising this vision demands much more, including continuing to work with the Singapore Government to secure university status for our Singapore campus.
This status change requires EduTrust Star certification and a dedicated, expanded campus featuring the full complement of student facilities. JCU Singapore’s current objective is to accomplish certification within the next three years, with campus plans well progressed in the same timeframe.
In addition, greater depth and strength in research is essential to achieving this vision. Research is a non-negotiable part of what it is to be a University. Managed well, Singapore-based research will add new strength and vitality to the JCU research portfolio.
Finally, JCU Singapore will need to become a fully integrated part of the University in a corporate sense. Faculties and divisions will have tri-campus reach.
This vision is bold, it is compelling and it is unique as far as Australia Universities are concerned.In prospect for JCU is the potential to create the first authentically cross-border international Australian university, evidenced by the fact that this development simply extends the 50-year-old mission of the University to be present in and focus on the issues of the peoples of the tropics.
In other words, while the structural innovation inherent in this expansion is important and provides enormous opportunity for JCU at a scale and scope beyond that which we have contemplated to date, the real power of this development, of this vision, is to provide new impetus to our historic tropical agenda.
As a city-state, Singapore is arguably the most developed tropical nation in the world. Its expression of tropicality and its leadership, particularly in science and technology, provides a model and testbed for the tropical world. Australia is the developed country with the largest tropical landmass and, in the 1950s, officials had the foresight to put in motion the development of a university in the tropical north to focus on the issues of the tropics.
Our University has effected authoritative leadership on the issues of the tropical world from our Australian base. But this is not, and cannot be, only an Australian project. Nor can we be present organisationally at scale in many places. The prospect of our greater engagement in Singapore promises to enliven and add a new dimension to our strategic intent, broadening our tropical agenda and making the tropics more fully our place.
Appropriately I will be in Singapore this week in the lead-up to our Graduation ceremony there on Saturday.
Professor Sandra Harding