26 June 2013
A new study has highlighted the significant and diverse ways that the University of the Sunshine Coast is helping shape the greater Sunshine Coast region.
Australia’s Regional Universities Network (RUN) today released a new study detailing the massive regional impacts of its member universities including USC.
The study, ‘Engaging with the regions, building a stronger nation’, shows the ways that RUN universities are making contributions to the social, cultural, environmental and economic development of their regions.
It builds on the release of RUN’s ‘Economic Impact Study’ in March.
USC Vice-Chancellor Professor Greg Hill said the 100-page report reinforced the extremely broad role and importance of regional universities such as USC.
“As USC continues to grow, so does its contribution to the greater Sunshine Coast region, through the areas of teaching and learning; research and innovation; and service to business and the community,” he said.
“We are one of the Sunshine Coast’s biggest assets and provide ‘knowledge leadership’ across many spheres, with resulting mutual benefits shown in this RUN report.”
Professor Hill said USC developed much closer ties to its local community than many city universities and actively sought engagement with regional business, industry, government and other organisations.
“We are shaping our operations and programs to suit the specific needs of our region, including raising the educational aspirations of all people including low socio-economic students, Indigenous and mature age students,” he said.
He said the University, now with more than 9,000 enrolled students and more than 1,000 staff, had huge potential to further drive regional development.
Six of the USC examples listed in the study are:
Sustainability. The report describes USC’s central value of sustainability as “an exemplary approach … providing strategic leadership within its region, and nationally, in the promotion of sustainable development”. It says USC is a leader in sustainability education and research while using its own campus to exemplify how contemporary development can be sensitive to the environment.
The Sustainability Research Centre at USC has more than 60 researchers and PhD students and is engaged in every level of research, from local to international. It regularly partners with the Sunshine Coast Council to ensure research projects are aligned with regional planning needs.
One example is the annual Sunshine Coast Futures Conference series, which each year attracts dozens of leaders and decision-makers to discuss a critical local issue, such as population.
USC Art Gallery and Public Art Collection. These provide regional access to physical and intellectual arts resources, enriching community education and quality of life. The gallery opened in 2004 funded by private donations and hosts about a dozen exhibitions a year. The collection is focused on contemporary Australian art, including Western and Central Desert Aboriginal art.
USC Innovation Centre. Located on the campus, the centre supports the start-up and growth of innovative, knowledge-based businesses, creating new employment opportunities. Operating for more than a decade, it has become a focal point for innovation and enterprise development in the region.
USC Engage Research Lab. The lab leverages technologies such as computer games and smartphone applications to provide solutions to social issues. For example, it has worked with Sunshine Coast and State Government partners to develop technology-enabled interventions aimed at increasing the safety and wellbeing of children. ‘Being Safety Smart’ is now in use as a free, online, educational game providing anti-abduction strategies for children.
Health. USC is playing a key role in the development of the Sunshine Coast University Hospital, a vital infrastructure project for the region’s health care and economy. Teaching and research will be integral to new hospital due to be opened in 2016. USC will help create a knowledge hub within the precinct via the Skills and Academic Research Centre.
USC’s Centre for Healthy Activities, Sport and Exercise (CHASE). The centre offers Sunshine Coast community and national sporting bodies access to innovative research and programs in sports performance and rehabilitation.
— Julie Schomberg