Southern Cross Matters
From the Vice-Chancellor
With the bulk of winter now behind us, many of us are now beginning to have conversations about just how soon we will find ourselves at the conclusion of another busy year. While much remains between us and that point, these middle months of the year can be times when it is useful to remind ourselves that we are indeed making progress against our ambitious plans for the future.
I am seeing this in so many aspects of our institutional lives. Our new website is live and operating after many months of intensive effort, but the progress that has been made is not simply about look and feel – as important as that is, but about functionality that matters like search and course comparison and the ease with which those interested in us can find content that really engages them and speaks to things they are passionate about.
Our curriculum continues to evolve and improve, and we have not shied away from taking lessons from the times when we have not managed to deliver wholly to the standards that we set for ourselves so that we can quickly improve.
Our research efforts continue to blossom, and our level of success in seeking external funding to support this important work is growing. I am particularly excited about the work of our Impact Clusters, but more broadly, the way that I am seeing connections form across disciplinary groups which have not traditionally worked together at SCU – a really great contemporary example being Health and IT.
And around all of these things, there are many elements of the fabric of our institution that continue to evolve and improve for the benefit of our students and communities. The momentum that is gathering in enhancing student support and life is so critical, but so to is the time and energy that is being invested in quality systems and oversight, as well as our technology suite.
At this critical time of the year, a great many people are giving consideration to the choices that they might make with respect to University study in 2024. We have an extraordinary story to tell those who want to learn about us, and every one of us can play a part in helping those who have not yet finalised key life choices for their future to do so. One of the key things that we have changed at our University in recent years is nothing more complicated than the confidence and positivity with which we explain who we are, and why we do what we do. I hope we can all carry that ethos into the lighter, warmer months that lay ahead and begin building for an even better year next year.
New Faculty head warms to the challenge
After more than 20 years of Victorian winters and two years of the nation’s strictest Covid lockdowns, Southern Cross University newcomer Professor Michael Ewing is settling in happily to life in Queensland.
“I cannot believe this is winter,” he says, admiring a glorious Gold Coast day and ocean view from his campus office, where he is now ensconced as Executive Dean of the Faculty of Business, Law and Arts.
“But I cannot help feeling very Victorian. Everywhere I go, I see Queenslanders rugged up and shivering while I am absolutely sweltering.”
Professor Ewing’s acclimatisation extends beyond the weather. Since starting in May, he has been familiarising himself with the people, programs and focus of the Faculty. He is excited by what he has seen and heard.
“I am so impressed with the quality of the personnel and the collegiality within the Faculty,” he said.
“More broadly, this region of South-East Queensland and Northern NSW is growing at such a rapid rate that it will bring many challenges and opportunities, especially in business and law.
“The same applies to the Arts. Humanities are so important for society, and it is vital that they can progress and be protected. Universities have a stake in that process, which I find appealing and motivating.”
Professor Ewing brings vast experience to Southern Cross University. He began his academic career at Curtin University (WA) in 1996 before moving across the country to fulfil various leadership roles at Monash University. From 2014-23, he was Deakin University’s Executive Dean of Business and Law and the Alfred Deakin Distinguished Professor.
His professional credentials also include teaching in Europe, Asia and in his homeland of South Africa, along with commercial marketing and consultancy roles with some of the world’s most recognised brands – Ford, Coca-Cola, Argyle Diamonds, Levi Strauss & Co, Ansell and Glaxo Smith Klein among them.
Though new to Southern Cross University, Professor Ewing has strong ancestral links to our region. The clue is in the name – Ewing, as in Ewingsdale. The Northern Rivers township was named for Professor Ewing’s family.
He plans to delve more deeply into his heritage, but Professor Ewing’s immediate priority is to harness, guide and complement the expertise and energy he has already witnessed within the Faculty of Business, Law and Arts.
Southern Cross surges 51 places to its best-ever QS ranking
Recent news stories about Southern Cross University’s performance in international rankings show that for a small regional university, we certainly punch above our weight!
We ranked 654th globally according to the renowned Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings 2024, and in the top 200 young universities in the world according to the Times Higher Education (THE) Young University Rankings 2023.
The 51-place jump in the QS rankings was due to improved Academic Reputation and Citations per Faculty while maintaining a strong performance in International Faculty. The Top 200 Young Universities result reflected improvements in the Publications per Staff and Proportion of International Academic Staff.
The QS rankings develop a picture of overall performance from several indicators: Academic Reputation and Employer Reputation, which measure through surveys how the University is externally perceived, while Citations per Faculty provides a pro rata measure of the academic impact of research. As there is no single global benchmark for teaching quality, QS estimates the student experience with indicators for Faculty Student Ratio, International Faculty and International Students.
“In recognition that both employability and sustainability are becoming a more intense focus of younger students, QS has shaken up its methodology for the first time in nearly a decade by adding indicators for Employment Outcomes, International Research Network and Sustainability. These new indicators reflect the post-graduation employment rate and prominent alumni, the geographic diversity of universities with whom we collaborate, and the environmental, social and governance pillars of sustainability,” said Wendy Scott, Acting Director, Research Data and Contracts.
“Southern Cross and Australian universities in general have excelled under this new methodology, showing that we are well positioned to nurture the next generation of leaders.”
And… we’re live!
If you’ve landed on scu.edu.au lately you’ll notice there have been some big changes to the website.
Launched on 8 July, the new Southern Cross website is the product of the Digital Experience Project (DEP), a complete redesign of the University’s online presence, based on more than two years of research and planning as well as thousands of hours of editing and finessing by more than 150 editors from work units across the University.
“The website is our single most important interface with the local, regional and global communities we serve, particularly future students. We have more than one million visitors a year, viewing more than 10 million pages,” affirmed Dean Gould, Chief Marketing Officer.
DEP’s captain, Senior Manager Gill Matthews, said it was gratifying to see all the hard work come to fruition.
“When you work on projects of this length it’s almost hard to believe when it goes live,” she said.
“The transition was a lot smoother than I was anticipating and for the actual flip from the old to the new, we finished two hours ahead of schedule. It will take another month or so to iron out some small issues and get our search optimised but we have high hopes for the new and improved digital Southern Cross!”
The new website will improve the user experience, especially the prospective student journey to applying. With improved search functionality, better course presentation and a richer visual experience, it represents a formidable cross-institution project for the University.
Check out the new suit at scu.edu.au
Gnibi Elders video series launches
A series of interviews with Associate Professor Stuart Barlo and members of the University’s Gnibi Elders Council was launched to coincide with NAIDOC week recently.
Nine council members – Uncle Gary Williams, Aunty Chris Kelly, Uncle Allan Phillips, Uncle Rob Bryant, Uncle Herb Roberts, Babani Robyne Bancroft, Uncle Des Williams, Aunty Sue Follent and Aunty Ruth Green – share their stories of life, values and education, in the series of short videos.
Dean of Gnibi College of Indigenous Australian Peoples Associate Professor Barlo said it was amazing to hear the Elders’ stories and understand the significance of their education journeys, that have traversed both Western education and Indigenous cultural and spiritual education.
“I hope these stories speak to our young people about the power of education in all its many forms,” he said. “We are privileged to have Elders who have achieved amazing things in their careers, have profound cultural knowledge and who make important contributions to our communities and to our students.”
The Gnibi Elders Council has been a part of the University in different ways since Southern Cross was constituted, providing guidance and leadership to the University on Indigenous issues. It is the only governance body of its kind at an Australian university and several Elders also teach into the Caring for Country and the Working with Aboriginal Communities units, delivered through Gnibi.
This year the NAIDOC theme was ‘For our Elders.’
Watch the trailer here.
Values in action
“Research is pivotal to how we grow as a University. Working in the Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Academic Capability), I am motivated to develop innovative programs and resources to build and strengthen our Academic Staff and Higher-Degree Research students’ capabilities. Advancing research skills, knowledge, impact and translation drives research excellence. We strive to provide exceptional support for our multidisciplinary research community. We strive for excellence.”
Did you know...
There was international coverage for Associate Professor Kai Schulz last month when the Wall Street Journal included his climate change research in an article about carbon storage and removal. Learn more.
The University’s four Research Impact Clusters - Harvest to Health; ZeroWaste; Catchments, Coasts and Communities; and Reefs and Oceans - are now live. While our researchers are already making an impact locally, regionally and globally, these clusters will enhance that impact. Have a look.
Shaun Brown, Manager, Workplace Health and Safety - HR Services
Owen Trembath, Senior Governance Officer - Governance Services
Yaz Adams, Senior Engineer (Infrastructure Platforms) - Technology Services
Stacey Morrison, Digital Producer and Designer - Office of Engagement
Georgie Lipson, Manager, Finance Business Partners - Financial Performance
Trevor Souter, Business Analyst - Technology Services
Danielle Marshall, Senior Manager, Quality Assurance - Office of Business Intelligence and Quality
Melissa Harvey, Manager, Research Internships - Graduate School