From the Vice-Chancellor: Year of the Student
2009 will be memorable for at least two things: the global financial crisis and swine flu. But for the University of Adelaide, 2009 is shaping up to be the Year of the Student.
On top of our biggest student intake at the start of the year, mid-year entry to the University has proven to be much more popular than expected. At the start of June 2009, our first preference undergraduate applications had increased by 25% over the same time last year, the largest increase in the State. All undergraduate preferences were up by 28%.
This is excellent news not only for the University, but also for the State and the nation, and it is pleasing to see that in tough economic times people are keen to invest in education.
Improving the community's level of education and skills, and creating new knowledge and new thinking, will be incredibly important in helping Australia to emerge successfully from the current financial situation.
The real challenge for all Australian universities will be in encouraging continued interest in higher education and the value of that education to our shared future, especially in the face of an eventual upturn in the financial situation.
The ambitious target set by the Federal Government - that 40% of all 25-34 year olds should have a bachelor degree or greater by 2025 - will depend in part on what we do today to encourage participation in university-level education.
I say "challenge", but it is also an opportunity.
At a time when more people are turning to education, we must develop a stronger culture of education in the community so that its value won't be diminished the moment the stocks begin to rise again.
How do we do this? In part, by being innovative in what we offer to students, by providing them with a quality education, and in better understanding their needs.
For example, the University's Summer and Winter Schools are a direct response to students' increasing demand for courses. Because students desire additional study opportunities, it is up to us to provide them - and we are doing so.
As the number of course offerings in our Summer and Winter Schools increases, we not only provide extra study options for domestic students, we also attract potential study abroad students.
It's no wonder that enrolments in our Winter School courses for 2009 have been steadily increasing since the beginning of the year. More than 660 students are currently enrolled in our Winter School, an increase of 128% over the previous year.
This is just one example of innovation at the University of Adelaide aimed at responding to demand. The future holds many new opportunities for us to expand our educational pathways and to be responsive to individual needs.
For example, we expect that increasing numbers of students will come from rural and remote areas, low socio-economic backgrounds and other situations of potential disadvantage. We also anticipate that more mature age students will take up the opportunity to enter tertiary education, for professional reskilling and for personal enrichment.
These individuals will have a hunger for knowledge and new experience; their will to succeed in an increasingly challenging world must be met by our desire to help them do so. It is up to our sector to provide alternative pathways to university to accommodate the needs of these students, and to give them the quality educational experience that they deserve.
Attracting more students to our University is a sign of success, but it is only one sign of success. Our real achievement will be in understanding and adapting to the needs of the students and in providing them with the best possible education.
Through this, we will demonstrate to the community that every year is the Year of the Student.
PROFESSOR JAMES A. McWHA
Vice-Chancellor and President