Tuesday, February 23, 2021

New Charles Darwin University vice-chancellor pledges growth after cuts to courses and staff

New Charles Darwin University vice-chancellor pledges growth after cuts to courses and staff

Charles Darwin University’s new vice-chancellor plans to expand course offerings in a bid to attract more students, after several years of course cuts and job losses at the institution.

Professor Scott Bowman, who will take up the job in May, said he plans to grow the university with a focus on emerging industries such as health, engineering and space.

“If you look at my history in higher education, I think you would have to say there is going to be more courses; there’s going to be more education,” he said.

“I really want to make it the university of choice for people in the Territory.

“I want to see far more of our school leavers and mature students come into the university.”

Professor Bowman, currently a Western Sydney University deputy vice-chancellor, will take over from Professor Simon Maddocks, who resigned last year to be closer to his family.

The new vice-chancellor identified the health workforce and renewable energy as two areas the university could focus on.

“I definitely think around energy, around renewables, green energy, there’s great potential to look at that,” he said.

“One place that would be perfect for space exploration is the Northern Territory.

“I’ll definitely be thinking about whether we can link in with that.”

The Sydney-based company Equatorial Launch Australia is developing a commercial space launchpad near Nhulunbuy in Arnhem land.

The centre is expected to become operational later this year.

Charles Darwin University has come under fire for cutting courses and jobs in a bid to reduce its multi-million-dollar deficit — including a restructure that saw 77 jobs cut late last year.

The university’s 2019/20 financial statement showed the institution had a $5.7 million deficit at the end of the last financial year.

The institution announced a series of course cuts and job losses last year.(ABC News)

Professor Bowman said CDU was now in a position to increase education offerings, including vocational education courses, despite 19 VET courses being cut last year.

“We will be very clever and very careful with investment we make, but I think we have room to make investment where we’re going to get a return,” Professor Bowman said.

“We can offer things in the university that no other university can offer, in environmental science, Indigenous studies, in some aspects of engineering in renewables.”

Professor Bowman began his professional life as a radiographer, working in several London hospitals before tutoring and lecturing in the university sector.

He also served as the vice-chancellor and president of Central Queensland University and deputy vice-chancellor and registrar at James Cook University.

Professor Bowman said by offering quality education for Territorians, more interstate and international students would enrol.

“Northern Australia has such an important role to play in the future of Australia … I think [CDU] is Australia’s most strategically important university,” he said.

“If you have a look at the Northern Territory, it’s just so important in biosecurity, water security, food security, defence security.”

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