Three years after the University of the Sunshine Coast opened a new campus at the start of a pandemic lockdown, the first UniSC Moreton Bay foundation students are set to graduate.
UniSC’s campus at Petrie opened in March 2020 as the newest university campus in Australia at the time. Students who began degrees in that foundation year will celebrate the completion of their studies today.
170 students will graduate at Genesis Christian College on Tuesday 4 April, over two ceremonies at 10am and 1pm.
UniSC Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Helen Bartlett, said the event was a milestone for UniSC as well as for graduates and their families and the wider Moreton Bay community.
"This is the first full cohort of students to study exclusively at our newest campus and I am thrilled for every student who crosses the stage today, knowing that they are ready to take their new knowledge into their region and the wider world,” Professor Bartlett said.
The campus began with a state-of-the-art foundation building in 2020, and construction is well underway for three more buildings, due for completion this year.
“With Moreton Bay’s population projected to increase to 700,000 in 20 years, we knew there was an enormous opportunity to educate and equip people with the necessary skills to meet industry gaps, and enrolments have already exceeded expectations,” Professor Bartlett said.
“By 2030, we expect UniSC Moreton Bay to be equal in size to our flagship UniSC Sunshine Coast campus, with 10,000 students enrolled.”
Moreton Bay Mayor Peter Flannery said today’s historic graduation ceremony was a significant milestone for not only the graduating students but for the entire Moreton Bay region.
“We’ve celebrated so many great milestones in the short history of this university campus from the first sod turn in 2018 to the opening day of classes in 2020, but today is easily my favourite,” he said.
“To see the smiles on the faces of each student today as part of the inaugural graduating class of Moreton Bay is the reason why Council took on such an ambitious task to build a greenfield university campus all those years ago.
“These students might not fully realise it now, but they are the trailblazers and role models for the entire region proving that you can follow your dreams right here in Moreton Bay.
“Before this campus was built, Moreton Bay had one of the worst tertiary education rates in the entire country and now many of these students are breaking that trend, many of which are the first in their families to graduate with a bachelor’s degree.
“This is only the beginning of a bright future for Moreton Bay, and I can’t wait to see many more graduating classes follow in the footsteps of these students as UniSC continues to expand and offer more opportunities to locals."
One of the first students, Emily Collins, said it was ‘perfect timing’ when she enrolled in a Bachelor of Science after finishing at North Lakes State College as dux in 2019.
She said the location of the Petrie campus meant she could focus on studying while living at home with a supportive family.
“The way I imagined the first year of uni was very different to the way it was,” said Emily, 21, who will also deliver the graduate address.
“We went into our first national lockdown a few weeks into the semester and the excitement for university became fear of getting the virus, of giving it to other people, and of running out of toilet paper.
“But we learned Zoom etiquette, returned to campus and adapted to a ‘new normal’ of blended learning. I got to experience all the excitement of the university lifestyle, including little things like sitting with friends on The Rise to watch the Tokyo Olympics on the big screen.”
Emily graduates tomorrow with a University Medal for an excellent grade point average of 6.96 out of 7, as she continues Honours research into soil carbon.
The Moreton Bay ceremonies are the first of UniSC’s April graduations for 2023. In total, more than 900 graduands and 4,000 guests will attend ceremonies at Moreton Bay, Sunshine Coast and Fraser Coast.
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