Engaging for impact

Our supporters – making a difference

In 2014 the University was fortunate to have received more than $4.0m in donations and sponsorships from our staff, corporate and philanthropic partners, alumni and friends. Every gift makes a difference. Through donor support, more than 200 scholarships and 300 prizes support our students, fund vital research to find solutions to significant challenges facing society, and recognise programs to meet community needs.

The University is very fortunate to also receive generous support from our staff and in 2014 formalised a staff giving program by bringing together more than 60 staff donors at a 'thank you' morning tea.

In 2014, an $80,000 donation was received from a group of architecture alumni, The Architecture Foundation. The donation supports The Parker Fellowship, a travelling scholarship named in honour of Eric Parker, the first permanent teacher of architecture at the University. This scholarship continues to be one of the most valuable awards available to students studying architecture.

We know that giving changes lives. Through strong engagement with our alumni, community, business and industry leaders we are seeing the generosity of others create real-world benefits for everyone.

Our alumni – making a difference

A university's reputation is built in part on the attributes of its graduates. The achievements of our alumni and their contributions to the social, cultural and economic fabrics of our many communities were recognised around the world in 2014 in internationally competitive award programs:

Highly successful architect and town planner Tan Sri Dato' Sri Ar Hj Esa Hj Mohamed received the Malaysian Australian Alumni Council Distinguished Alumni Award for his national and international achievements, including being elected as the President of the International Union of Architects, representing nearly 1.3m architects in more than 100 countries

Dr Chee Hsiang Liow, a medical graduate, won the Australia China Alumni Association award for Research and Innovation, recognising more than a decade of service to Bless China International, an NGO providing healthcare, community development and child services to 42,000 people annually

Alistair Briscombe received the Australian (Vietnam) Alumni Award for Friendship, for his work in HIV and human trafficking prevention programs

The Australian-Thai Chamber of Commerce presented Thailand's Alumni Leadership Award to Newcastle Master of Medical Science and PhD graduate Professor Virasakdi Chonsuvivatwong. He has created numerous educational initiatives and achieved funding for fellowship programs, led research input to health policy for Thailand, and created educational and research developments to improve public health in poverty-stricken areas of southern Thailand that are plagued with major health problems and political instability.

The University's own Alumni Awards were an opportunity to reflect on the extraordinary accomplishments of our graduates. The gala awards dinner – the flagship alumni event on the University's calendar – was held at Newcastle City Hall in October with 350 guests, recognising 32 gamechanging finalists and awarding 10 recipients across eight categories.

The University celebrated its alumni in 2014 with activities across nine countries, demonstrating the importance of the genuine partnership we enjoy with our alumni network – and the esteem in which we hold each and every graduate.

International engagement

Global Partnership Plan

The Global Partnership Plan (GPP) 2014–2018 acknowledges the need for the University to develop appropriate strategies to engage and build sustainable international partnerships, which deliver tangible outcomes in the areas of education, and research and innovation - the two pillars of the NeW Directions Strategic Plan 2013–2015. Alignment with NeW Directions and our Corporate Plan, and integration with the work of Faculties and Divisions, is critical for a sustainable GPP.

There were a number of key achievements under the GPP throughout the year. The UON World University Rankings Group was established to develop and implement strategies to manage our performance in world university ranking systems. During 2014 we achieved a top ranking in Australia in both the QS and Times Higher Education's Top 50 Under 50 rankings, and increased 41 places in the QS World University Rankings to 257, to achieve a ranking of 10th in Australia.

We continued to build our reputation, profile and trusted relationships with feeder institutions. The University was able to secure fully-funded places for two senior academics in the Confucius Institute Scholars Program allowing Professors John Germov and Sandeep Gopalan to each spend two weeks at Fudan University in China. Another highlight was the Vice- Chancellor's visit to Korea where she hosted more than 140 alumni and guests from the Australian Embassy, Austrade, our education partners and two distinguished Colombo Plan scholars. These visits exemplify the effort and commitment of the University to institutional relationship building, and the exciting prospects that can result.

New Colombo Plan success

We received a significant tranche of funding as well as three highly prestigious scholarships under the New Colombo Plan, the nation's flagship Asia engagement strategy. Current students Hayley Ovenden (Bachelor of Engineering – Civil), Cherie Colyer-Morris, (Bachelor of Environmental Science and Management), and Jessie Nolan (Bachelor of Engineering – Electrical) will each undertake mentorships in Singapore. A second tranche of funding was made available for 10 Bachelor of Commerce students for a study tour to Singapore, and for clinical placements for up to four Bachelor of Medical Radiation students, also to Singapore.

Accolade for international student engagement

We received national recognition in 2014 for our approach to teaching English to our diverse cohort of international students. The English Australia Innovation Award recognised the effectiveness and success of our Student Experience Programs (SEP), as delivered by the English Language and Foundation Studies Centre. The SEP was introduced in response to international student feedback seeking greater interaction with local students and the local community and has provided original and creative problem-solving initiatives to engage international students with positive experiences to enhance their Australian study experience and help build strong relationships.