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Thu, 1 Jan 2015

Taskforce to tackle JCU's tropical future

JCU is setting up an internal taskforce to further enhance its development as Australia's University for the Tropics.

James Cook University is setting up an internal taskforce to further enhance its development as Australia’s University for the Tropics.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Sandra Harding said today that the taskforce would work across four primary domains – learning and teaching, research and innovation, engagement, and services and resources.

“Our goal is nothing less than establishing JCU as a great University, renowned for education, research and engagement relevant to the tropical world - including northern Queensland,” Professor Harding said.

“This will only be achieved through great, distinctive programs and high quality, high impact research and innovation, leveraging leading technologies and engaging outstanding scholars in locations that reflect our unique place in the world.”

Professor Harding said that the result would be a larger, more vibrant, better connected, well respected and more sharply focused JCU.

In an email to all staff, she said that the taskforce’s outcomes would have implications for JCU’s core activity, policies, operations and structures. She urged the JCU community to become involved with the work of the taskforce and the “re-imagining” of the University.

“As occurred with the development of and revision of the University's Strategic Intent, staff input and consultation with the wider community will inform the Task Force and management as we look to the future,” Professor Harding said.

“JCU’s greatness will be realised as we deliver on the promise of our University, crafting JCU to deliver programs, conduct research and provide genuine leadership on issues of importance to the peoples of the tropics at home, in northern Queensland, northern Australia and Singapore, and abroad,” she said. .

Professor Harding added that while focusing on the broader tropics, JCU must always remain true to its commitment as the University for northern Queensland.

“I expect there will be areas we will want to power-up and others to power-down. Some program areas may need to be refashioned and there are likely to be gaps in our offerings that should be filled.”

The taskforce will be headed by the University’s Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Chris Cocklin, and was expected to substantially progress its work by late 2012 and conclude in the first half of 2013.

Professor Harding told staff that they should expect changes as a result of the taskforce’s work.

“The precise form and content of these changes – particularly the areas and staff most affected – cannot be known until the Taskforce completes its job,” she said.

The Vice-Chancellor also pointed out that Higher education in Australia had become more competitive and costly.

“JCU is not immune to these difficult conditions,” she said. “While we have managed to grow our domestic student numbers substantially, like many other Australian universities JCU has been affected by a decline in international student numbers.

“Similarly, changes in government policy announced without warning late last year capping Commonwealth supported places in sub degree and postgraduate coursework programs have had a negative impact on us.

“In addition, we are subject to new legislative demands, including meeting the requirements of the regulatory framework monitored and enforced by the new Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA). There are new costs associated with our compliance and work to be done in assuring our practices.”

Professor Harding said that the confluence of tough external conditions and the University’s need and desire to realise its Strategic Intent meant that budgets would be challenging but manageable “even as we write the next chapter in the history of James Cook University”.

Issued: June 18, 2012

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