Mike Hefferan

Title

Pro Vice-Chancellor (Engagement)

Country

Australia

University of the Sunshine Coast

The University of the Sunshine Coast (USC) was founded in 1996 and is Australia’s fastest growing university with a rapidly developing reputation for high quality education and world class research in areas such as Genecology (in forestry and fish breeding), Health Sciences, and Sustainability. Located in the famous Sunshine Coast region of Australia, approximately 100 km north of Brisbane, the University lives by its motto Best of both worlds.
Its spectacular subtropical campus at Sippy Downs reflects USC’s commitment to both sustainability and innovation, and houses around 8,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students in three faculties – Business, Arts and Social Science, and Science, Health and Education. USC consistently receives some of the highest ratings in the Good Universities Guide with its emphasis on face-to-face learning being appreciated at both undergraduate and postgraduate level.
The University’s mission is oriented towards regional engagement and regional relevance. It views is spectacular and high growth region as a living laboratory, where high value, knowledge-intensive enterprise can provide a leading edge to social and economic development whilst enhancing the natural environment. It enjoys wide links and partnerships with major universities and research institutions across Australia and internationally.

University of the Sunshine Coast community

The Sunshine Coast is located in the subtropics on the east coast of Australia in the state of Queensland. It lies approximately 100 kilometres north of Brisbane, the state capital. It is recognised for its quite spectacular natural beauty with high quality surfing beaches, mountainous hinterland, high visual amenity and quality, and a highly diverse natural environment.
The regional economy has a remarkably narrow base with thirty-six percent of the workforce employed in three key sectors: retail, tourism, and construction. Further issues arise from the volatility of each of these sectors and are reflected on the average household income which is thirteen percent below the national average.
The population of the Sunshine Coast had reached 323,000 in 2009 with an annual net migration of some 8,000 people moving to the area. With this high level of growth come unique and urgent problems, typically pertaining to growth management and the provision of infrastructure, the widening of the economic base to provide more sustainable jobs, and the protection and sustainability of the physical environment which is held in such high regard within the region, and external to it.

Commitment to community engagement

The University's mission statement highlights the priority that USC places on engagement locally. Quite simply, regional engagement is at the heart of all that the University does.
USC mission statement: The University aims to the major catalyst for the innovative and sustainable economic, cultural and educational advancement of the region, through the pursuit of international standards in teaching, research and engagement.
Engagement activities occur daily, in a variety of forms and across all areas of the University. The following highlights some key actions:
• Long term and productive partnerships in areas of research and innovation, governance, education partnerships, including other Universities. TAFEs and schools, business partnerships, community partnerships and environmental partnerships further the region's interest and the University's strategic priorities.
• Courses and programs are designed in consultation with industry and to meet regional needs.
• University research is focused in broad themes of regional engagement and sustainability. Major research activities are established and coordinated by the University with involvement from professional, industry and advisory groups. Research grants are funded by the community and sponsored by industry.
• Shared jointly-funded infrastructure supports the needs of the local community. Such facilities include the Psychology Clinic, health and sports facilities, Library and Art Gallery.
• USC leads funded regional projects, enhances research outcomes and develops working partnerships with other institutions and industry partners.
• USC works closely with schools and guidance officers to provide pathways to tertiary education.
• Scholarships, bursaries and prizes are funded by the community and industry to increase access to tertiary education by equity groups.
• The Innovation Centre advances the knowledge economy and supports entrepreneurship locally.
• The University supports and hosts events including industry forums, open days, community events, cultural activities, professional development events, professional short courses and networking events for community benefit and professional development.
• Work Integrated Learning opportunities links businesses with USC students for work placements, internships, work experience and practical industry based projects and graduate employment. Industry advertises positions vacant at no charge using the University's Career Hub.
• Industry and members of the community are actively involved in learning and teaching at the University and student support activities.
• The community have input to University policy through leadership.