Q&A Professor Pascale Quester
A passion for global learning and new teaching methods are two key priorities of the University's new Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President (Academic), Professor Pascale Quester. In this Q&A, Professor Quester speaks about her vision for the University.
Q: In 2012, the university landscape will change in Australia to a student demand-driven system as the caps come off. What impact will this have on the sector and what changes can we expect to see at the University of Adelaide?
A: As competition for students increases, this will force universities to become more market oriented and student centric. Fortunately, the University of Adelaide has already taken a number of steps in this regard, building the Learning Hub and engaging students in the process, co-creating an ideal space for learning rather than senior management imposing our views.
Q: How will we ensure that our quality is maintained in juggling the student-staff ratio and teaching requirements?
A: In many ways, technology is making the notion of student-staff ratios obsolete. A decade ago, people would count their friends on one hand. Today, they collect dozens of friends on Facebook! What matters is not the amount of teaching that happens but the amount of learning that takes place. Some of it requires a lecturer to be present but at other times interaction within a group, peer evaluation and self-directed work can also deliver learning outcomes. It will depend on the type of learning and the discipline. Language and music, for example, require face-to-face interaction but for many other disciplines we should not feel unduly constrained by the teaching model of yesteryear, when today's learning can take so many different paths.
Q: It has just been announced that Adelaide will get its fourth university - a private one - in 2013, boosting its 'university city' credentials. How will this work in our favour?
A: At this stage it is difficult to say. Laureate International University may increase Adelaide's appeal as a place to study, simply by offering courses such as Tourism and Hotel Management which is currently not taught at university level in Adelaide. We certainly look forward to discussing with Laureate any avenues for collaboration and strategic alliance. Head-on competition will not benefit anyone.
Q: In the short term, what are your immediate priorities in the teaching and learning sphere?
A: A student-centric perspective on everything we do - from assessment to program structure or internet availability - is a key element which we need to build up. There is also an urgent need to simplify our current system. We have more than 140 undergraduate programs and many different systems to assess students along the way. Understanding and responding to students' needs and expectations will represent a major cultural shift but it is both inevitable and desirable.
Q: What changes are needed at the University of Adelaide to make it a truly global university?
A: We have been the passive recipient of an internationalisation process which has characterised the higher education sector over recent decades. Yet, in my view, globalisation is a two-way street. We should encourage students and staff to experience study, teaching and professional practices in countries vastly different to our own. This will broaden our outlook, inform our teaching content and style, and provide benefits all round.
Q: What advice would you give to new university students to ensure they get the most out of their tertiary education?
A: Make the most of the opportunities to learn. Do not study for exams, but for knowledge's sake. Study abroad, seek internships and work experience. Learn to work with teams and become a self-reliant, independent thinker. This will set you up for life.
Q: For graduates thinking of returning to study at the University of Adelaide to further their career, what does the University offer to keep mature-aged students engaged?
A: The benefits of returning to university are multiple. From updating one's understanding and skills, to connecting to valuable professional networks, the experience is all about building confidence and developing a capacity for learning that has positive spin-offs for other aspects of a person's life. A critical thinker, a good communicator, a systematic organiser and excellent time manager will always be in high demand!
Q: List some key words that you hope will accurately describe the University of Adelaide in a decade - 2020 - setting it apart from its competitors.
A: Global, relevant, innovative, student oriented, socially and ethically engaged, and a leader in production and distribution of knowledge.