Top institution attracts talented researchers

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 22 July, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 22 July, 2006, 12:00am

The university offers a supportive environment with flexible workplace arrangements, generous conditions and staff assistance programmes

As one of Australia's top 10 universities, the University of Newcastle is in a fortunate position when it comes to attracting outstanding researchers and staff members who are highly regarded for their work.

'The quality staff we are able to attract continually perform research that is recognised for its impact and relevance to the region, the nation and the international community,' said Nicholas Saunders, vice-chancellor of the university.

A supportive environment that fostered training and development and offered flexible workplace arrangements, generous conditions, employee assistance programmes and access to various services and activities all served to ensure that they stayed in their jobs, Professor Saunders added.

The university takes pride in its reputation as a research-intensive university, and is dedicated to working with industry partners to maximise research outcomes.

'We are especially proud of the contributions that the university is making through our centres of excellence and co-operative research centres, and their involvement with industry partners,' Professor Saunders said.

For example, the University of Newcastle Research Associates, the university's commercial arm, is highly regarded for its success in converting research outcomes into commercial reality.

The university also has strong links with local health bodies and the community through the Hunter Medical Research Institute, which is the only medical research institute in regional Australia.

'Part of the research effort of the university is applied to real world issues, and the university links with businesses, industry and the community to deliver outcomes-based research,' Professor Saunders said.

An example of one of these partnerships is with Ampcontrol, one of Australia's largest privately owned electrical and electronic manufacturing, design and service companies.

Ampcontrol and the University of Newcastle have joined up to form ResTech, a research and development company in the fields of power engineering, power electronics, industrial electronics and systems engineering.

Professor Saunders said that ResTech provided the opportunity for postgraduate research students at the university in these fields to work with local businesses and leaders in their fields. Other projects currently undertaken include research into the Western Australian pearling industry, childhood obesity, reproductive medicine, education, business, the coal and mining industries, construction, cardiovascular disease, cancer and Australia's indigenous community and heritage.

The university is well known for its problem-based learning approach that was pioneered by its medical school about 25 years ago.

Problem-based learning today forms the core of the University of Newcastle's programmes in engineering, architecture, construction management, nursing and law.

Newcastle was one of the first Australian universities to introduce the Master of Business Administration as well as the first integrated Professional Programme for Law students.

Today, the University of Newcastle has five faculties: Business and Law, Education and Arts, Engineering and Built Environment, Health and Science and Information Technology.

Founded in 1965, it has grown from a small regional university to one with 26,000 students and several campuses in Australia and overseas.

At present, the university has about 4,630 international students enrolled in its programmes, with 1,644 of these enrolled offshore, predominantly in Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia.