Annual Report 2015: Vice-Chancellor's review
It has been my privilege to join Flinders University at a time of transformation and opportunity.
We have maintained our position as the fastest-growing university in South Australia, increased our research capabilities and invested significantly in infrastructure – establishing key foundations that will support us as we create a truly outstanding experience for our students.
Flinders University has maintained a strong international profile and continued its standing, rising to the world’s top 300 universities in the THE World University Rankings, recognising the achievements of our staff in high-quality teaching and high-impact research.
So too, we continue to attract international students, with growth rates above the national average, and an international student population representing more than 90 countries.
On the back of successful New Colombo Plan grants, 2015 saw record numbers of Flinders University students undertaking part of their studies overseas, creating opportunities to build their cross-cultural competencies and ability to think critically about the world and their roles in it.
The Flinders’ Jembatan initiative was launched in July 2015 and demonstrates Flinders’ commitment to building people to people links between Australia and Indonesia. Jembatan spans a range of activities including student mobility, and staff and community engagement to increase the understanding of modern Indonesian Society in South Australia.
We’ve achieved a number of important breakthroughs in 2015 and just as importantly, our researchers are on the cusp of many more.
The Australian Research Council found 90 per cent of Flinders’ research ranked at or above world standard, in the 2015 ERA.
Our status as a leading research university was affirmed by the South Australian Science Excellence Awards in 2015, with the university winning half of the awards available Professor Craig Simmons was recognised as the South Australian Scientist of the Year in 2015 for his outstanding service to research and education in hydrology. Dr Katherine Moore, won the award for PhD research excellence and Dr Maria Parappilly won the STEM Tertiary Teaching Award.
Another research highlight was the patenting of Professor Colin Raston’s Vortex Fluidic Device, a ground-breaking technology that has extraordinary potential in cancer treatment, drug manufacture and biofuel production.
The University’s outstanding academic staff complement was bolstered with a number of significant appointments during the year, including Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research Professor Robert Saint, Strategic Professor of Industrial Transformation Professor John Spoehr, Strategic Professor of Social and Policy Studies Adam Graycar, Strategic Professor in Reproductive Medicine Kelton Tremellen and Strategic Professor in Restorative Care Susan Gordon.
Course innovation continued in 2015. The first student intakes were welcomed into several new courses including Fashion, Visual Arts, Community Services and Tourism Management.
The enhancement of information and service provision to students was given a major boost with the launch in September of Flinders Connect as a one-stop source of advice.
In March 2015 we formally opened Flinders at Tonsley which sees the great pillars of education, research, industry, business and government unite – on the one site, and in the one building. In just two years, our Tonsley-based New Venture Institute has already helped create more than 115 start-ups and 51 new jobs, and the success of the Medical Device Partnering Program was reaffirmed by additional State Government funding.
The Flinders University Art Museum and City Gallery is being used increasingly as a teaching resource and was awarded an Office of Learning and Teaching Grant to embed employability skills through Object Based Learning.
During 2015 we continued upgrades to our facilities and completed work on our single largest infrastructure investment for our main campus to date – a new Student Hub and Plaza to provide the very latest in learning technologies, an array of study places and vibrant social spaces, enhancing the experience of our growing student population.
In 2015 we built the momentum. In 2016, as we embark on our 50th anniversary year, I look forward to ensuring this momentum continues into our next half-century.
PROFESSOR COLIN J STIRLING