Suspend disbelief! The Spring Session is here and the cold weather of recent weeks should be passing. Last week we held four graduation ceremonies and recognised the achievements of 1,840 graduates. We also awarded an Emeritus Professorship to Nick Standish (EIS) and recognised the Chair of UOW Global Enterprises, Peter Robson AO, with the award of an honorary degree (DLitt).  Thank you to everyone involved in the delivery of mid-year examinations, orientation, admissions, graduations and showcasing the campus to so many visitors and students.

The 2018 Spring Session will see a total of 4,100 new commencements, bringing the total enrolments to 35,700 for the year to date (across onshore and offshore locations). The slowing growth rate in numbers will generate a tight budget for 2019 and highlights the level of competition in the sector.

UOW’s work in creating new facilities continues. On 3 July, the University officially opened “MIND the GaP” at the Shoalhaven Campus. Supported by the Federal Government, this fantastic initiative is devoted to delivering services and training on youth mental health issues. On 9 August, the University is officially commissioning its new Titan Krios microscope at a temporary facility at ANSTO.  This technology will transfer to the new Molecular Horizons building before Easter 2020.

Wollongong’s second entry into the international Solar Decathlon competition to design and build a solar-powered house that is cost-effective is now on public display at the Innovation Campus. This student-led project is the Australian entry to the 2018 Dubai Solar Decathlon and will be re-built and shown in the UAE over the period of 14 – 29 November.

In recent weeks there has been public comment on the longer-term population projections for the major cities in NSW. On 9 July, the University hosted the launch of the Committee for Sydney’s “Sandstone Mega-Region” initiative examining the relationship between Newcastle, Central Coast, Wollongong and the three city regions of Sydney. This paper makes mention of the importance of the higher education sector and, in particular, the role of the NUW Alliance (UOW’s strategic partnership with UNSW and the University of Newcastle) in driving collaboration across the region.

On 18 July, the University received a Spotlight Award in the Global Teaching Excellence Awards held in Edinburgh. UOW is the only Australian university, and one of six worldwide, to be shortlisted as a finalist in two successive years and was the only Australian university to receive an award. It is particularly pleasing to be recognised as one of the world’s leading universities for our culture of continuous improvement in learning and teaching. This is a great testament to the efforts the University puts into creating an outstanding learning environment and caring for the interests of our students.

This session we will continue our efforts to create a positive community of learning, respect and belonging at UOW. Last Friday, 20 July, Universities Australia released guidelines about how universities should respond to instances of sexual assault and sexual harassment. I welcome this contribution by the sector’s peak body. The guidelines are largely in line the actions we have already taken, or are implementing, here at UOW – particularly our ‘support first’ approach to any such incidents. We will consider any opportunities the guidelines provide for us to improve further.

We are also seeking consultation on the University’s Safe and Respectful Communities (SARC) Action Plan. The SARC Draft Action Plan is designed to inform and guide the activities the University of Wollongong will undertake to provide a safe and respectful community at UOW.  Consultation on the plan closes on 10 August. Click here for more information.

During the session we shall have the opportunity to celebrate the achievements of our colleagues at the Staff Awards evening (23 August, University Hall). Before then, the University is hosting its main Open Day on 11 August to meet with next year’s prospective students and to assist their decisions in shaping the next stage of their careers.

Late last session, UOW launched its long-term vision about the nature of the University in 2030 and beyond. There we committed to having a global outlook, to being a trusted partner and to working on change that matters. Click here for more.

Thank you for all your ongoing efforts on behalf of the University.

Kind regards,

Professor Paul Wellings CBE