View all news

Students see futures in Southern Cross sciences


Sharlene King
7 June 2020
Marine science fish at Solitary Islands Aquarium Coffs Harbour

Southern Cross University is seeing an unprecedented increase in demand for science degrees into the second half of 2020.

Applications for science, environment and engineering degrees are up 99 per cent for domestic students.

This is despite the drop-off in international students due to the COVID-19 crisis causing Southern Cross to navigate a serious budget shortfall over the next two years.

“It is a challenging time financially but the necessary reforms will continue in the background while Southern Cross continues to deliver a first class student experience,” said Professor Nick Ashbolt, Dean of the School of Environment, Science and Engineering.

Overall there is a 25% percent year-on-year increase for domestic applications for study at Southern Cross for mid-year study.

It is the sciences that have seen the largest growth. The Bachelor of Science, now including a major in Regenerative Agriculture, has 80 applications. It wasn’t offered in Session 2 last year. Other science-related degrees in high demand include:

  • Bachelor of Environmental Science – up 43% in domestic applications.
  • Bachelor of Marine Science and Management – up 38%
  • Bachelor of Forest Science and Management – up 60%
  • Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) in Civil Engineering – up 83%

“It is pleasing to see the growing reputation of Southern Cross in this area,” Professor Ashbolt said.

“Our Forestry was this year ranked in the top three percent of universities in the world under the QS Subject Rankings index,” he said.

“And the latest Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) results gave the University the highest possible rating of ‘well above world standard’ in its research for Earth Sciences, Geochemistry, Oceanography, Environmental Science and Management, Ecology, Zoology, Agricultural Sciences, Crop and Pasture Production, Fisheries Sciences, Forestry Sciences, Civil Engineering and Resources Engineering and Extractive Metallurgy.

“The new students will be guided by some of the world leaders in their field.”

Applications for upcoming study Session are now open at
IT professional aims for future in marine science with Southern Cross
IT professional Jeff Sheard’s passion for marine science has been ignited by his studies at Southern Cross University.

He is excited and proud of Seaworthy Science, a new podcast he and his fellow students created.

“Our group’s intention with Seaworthy Science is to feature positive stories where science is making a difference to improve the marine environment," said Jeff. "The aim is to reach high school students or science students with some facts and some information that they will find inspiring.”

Embarking on the first steps to a career change last year, Jeff is studying a Bachelor of Marine Science and Management online and part time while he continues working.

“The course is ideal, with its capacity for me to make a positive contribution. All the time I’ve spent at the ocean over the years I’ve seen the marine environment come under more and more pressure,” said Jeff who grew up in and around Cronulla in the Sutherland Shire south of Sydney.

“I wanted to understand what was going on there. I wanted to understand the options available to me and build a tool kit of skills and knowledge that I can use to make a positive difference in that space. I may even be able to incorporate my IT skills.”

Jeff said the learning experience so far “has been brilliant”, particularly the residentials.

“The lecturers have been amazing and their response to COVID-19 by adapting the residential to a virtual experience has been swift and effective. The way the residential was structured we never felt like we missed out.”

For the first episode of Seaworthy Science (created as part of the Global Environmental Issues unit), Jeff and his group interviewed Southern Cross University scientist Dr David Abrego about coral reef restoration.

"We’ve now got about six other ideas we’re researching for future episodes before we really promote it to the wider world," Jeff said.