Status Update

The Master Plan process is well underway, with an extensive phase of stakeholder and community consultation in progress. This consultation runs throughout April and May, and has included three weeks of intensive stakeholder meetings and workshops; online and in-person surveys of staff and students; interactive workshops; and the Big Ideas Forum with Futurist Geoff Roberts, held on April 14 (you can watch this video here). The outcomes of this consultation process will be captured in an aspirational brief due in early June.

A significant task in the early part of the year was to establish a Governance structure and Project Control Group that together will guide and endorse the Master Plan. 22 different stakeholder groups and their respective members have also been identified for consultation, and a strategy for engaging and communicating with these groups has been agreed. The stakeholders include four Task Groups, which are comprised of staff members from across the University, students and the community. These will meet monthly and have a defined set of roles and responsibilities that have been set out in their respective Terms of Reference. The Project Implementation Plan that captures all of this information and sets out a program for the rest of the year has been ratified and endorsed by the project control group.

Ongoing tasks for the project team include a thorough and complete analysis of the site’s physical characteristics; the natural environment, climate and local ecosystems; the historical context and previous Master Plans; and the competitive and economic environment of Townsville and the Tropics.

These various reports will all contribute to the Strategic Master Plan Brief, due to be delivered in July. Following this, several Master Plan options will be developed for consideration throughout August and September, before the final version is resolved in October and a staging and implementation strategy developed for publication in January 2017.

Task Group Workshops

Task Group Workshop

The first task group workshops have kicked off, with all four groups meeting with the project team for intensive briefing and feedback sessions on Friday 22nd May. These groups are designed to provide comprehensive feedback on all of the core focus areas for the Master Plan, and include broad representation from the University staff and students, as well as local community, the Townsville City Council and Defence Force. The four task groups are:

  1. Place Making and Student Life
  2. Landscape, Environment and Sustainability
  3. Circulation and Infrastructure
  4. Discovery Rise and Community

Geoff Roberts (Futurist) Presentation

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Tropical knowledge: The key to Northern Queensland’s future prosperity

Tropical knowledge: The key to Northern Queensland’s future prosperity by Mara Bun

Last week the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) revealed a blowout in student loans: the federal government’s $60 billion Higher Education Loan Program will grow to $185 billion by 2026.

This is of concern, but are we missing the big picture by failing to focus on the importance of higher education for Australia’s future prosperity?

Could it be that in future, minds will top our export list? What does that mean for our universities today?

Excerpt from Bun, M 2016, ‘Tropical knowledge: The key to Northern Queensland’s future prosperity’, LinkedIn, 11 April.

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