Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Around New England's Universities - February 2013

Just a round up this morning of recent news from New England's universities. On 16 January, the University of Newcastle released 8,096 Main Round Offers to prospective undergraduate students.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic), Professor Andrew Parfitt, said to date the University had made a total of 8,410 offers to students to commence studies next month, an increase of 65 on 2012.

“There were more than 19,200 applications from students across Australia with at least one preference for an undergraduate degree at Newcastle, indicating a high degree of interest in our programs.

“Our first preferences are up by two per cent on last year and 79 per cent of the University’s 2013 offers were to students from the Hunter, Central Coast and Mid North Coast regions."

Professor Parfitt noted that the Joint Medical Program (Bachelor of Medicine) continued to attract most preferences with just over 3,000 people applied for 170 places (110 at Newcastle and 60 at the University of New England). The University of New England issued a parallel release, also focused on the competitive nature of the program.

The following day, the NSW Minister for the Central Coast, Chris Hartcher welcomed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding to bring a new University of Newcastle presence to the Gosford CBD. This formed part of the University's continued push into the NSW Central Coast.

A month later, Southern Cross University announced the opening of the second stage building on its Gold Coast campus. The competitive dynamics in all this are interesting. Newcastle is pushing into the Central Coast and also up the North Coast. SCU is pushing into the Gold Coast and down the North Coast. Meantime, the University of New England, blocked to some degree from its traditional feeder areas by the other two, has pushed well south past the traditional New England border into Parramatta. Apart from sponsoring the Parramatta Eels Rugby League team, in February last year UNE acquired the lease on two iconic buildings in Church Street to act as a base for its campus of the future.

Staying in Newcastle, the Medical School has continued its good work with the announcement of a potential break through that might lead to better treatments for asthma. In the meantime,  NU's Dr Marguerite Johnson, a lecturer in classics, titivated locals with a Valentine's Day presentation on love and lust in the ancient world.  The University of New England, too, has been maintaining an interest in the classics. On 7 March, Dr Beth Thompson will speak about a 4000 year-old cemetery cut into the eastern cliffs which border the Nile Valley c. 250 kms south of Cairo. The title of her lecture is ‘The Old Kingdom Tombs at Tehna in Upper Egypt.’ Dr Thompson has been studying Egyptology for 30 years at Macquarie University, and combines this with longstanding formal training in Art.

This will be the first lecture in this year's Aspects of Antiquity series; this series has now been running for twenty years. As a sometimes historian, its nice to see both Newcastle and UNE preserving the interest in the ancient world.

Staying with community outreach, Newcastle has launched the ‘Science in the Pub’ series, where the community can meet scientists and learn about new technologies and ground-breaking research. Sounds interesting.

All the universities have recently had Orientation Week activities. At Southern Cross, activities varied across the three campuses, Coffs Harbour, Lismore and Tweed.

Have you watched the BBC History Cold Case series? SBS has been running it. One of the key members of the Cold Case team, Dr Xanthe Mallett, has joined the staff at UNE. A biological anthropologist, Dr Mallett is lecturing in UNE's criminology degree program.

I have run out of time today and have barely scratched the surface of recent news. This includes the resignation of Richard Torbay as UNE's chancellor. I will try to do better in bringing you updates from our universities in future!.   

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