Linking with the regions
Photography Credit: Adam Bruzzone/SATC
The University of Adelaide is forging new partnerships in regional South Australia to support local communities while offering unique learning and research opportunities for students.
The Riverland is the latest region to benefit from the initiative, which aims to use the University's vast expertise across multiple specialist areas to assist local development.
Professor Christopher Findlay, Executive Dean of the Faculty of the Professions, says the approach is a win-win for all parties.
"We're offering our substantial capability and engaging with industry, councils and regional development groups to tackle projects which have real value for the community," he says.
"At the same time it's a tremendous opportunity and experience for our students because they get to work on real-life issues."
The University has also developed projects in other parts of South Australia, including the South-East and Port Augusta.
"While some of our ideas are still in the embryonic stage, the response locally has been very enthusiastic - they appreciate the benefits which will flow from such collaboration," says Professor Findlay.
Among the initiatives is a partnership with Renmark-based Almondco Australia, which is seeking to add additional supply chain value for its existing growers while encouraging more farmers to grow almonds.
International Global Food and Agricultural Business student Yumeng Chen has linked with Almondco for her Masters research to help the process.
It's a comprehensive study to find out the needs of existing and potential new growers, and to provide crucial financial information relating to overheads, timelines and expected returns. The research involves liaising with key industry stakeholders.
In a separate project at Almondco, engineering students from the University have been invited to review and evaluate the company's world-class processing facilities to see if further innovation and improvements can be implemented.
"Our students are thirsty for this type of practical experience and the opportunity to use their skills in an area that can add real value," says Research Associate Craig Johns. "It also looks good on their résumé."
The Faculty of Professions is also liaising with Renmark Paringa Council with a view to having overseas students take part in council internships.
Business Development Manager Anna Cosentino says the aim is to provide a real-life regional experience for students through possible homestays and by becoming actively involved in the community.
"Projects being considered include assisting the council with new technology and records systems, designing platforms for community engagement, and the development of new procurement programs," says Ms Cosentino.
"The council is very enthusiastic at the prospect of being able to utilise the skills of our students and we're hoping to have something in place soon."
Various other initiatives are still at the developmental stage, including programs with Regional Development Australia and the local business community.