UON welcomes Higher Ed announcement
The University of Newcastle (UON) warmly welcomes this morning's announcement by Minister Birmingham. The University has consistently called for a delay in the implementation of new higher education funding policy until 2017 at the earliest, and we are pleased to be able to move into a new phase of consultation with the Minister.
UON will engage with the Minister to encourage the retention and expansion of the demand-driven system as a key equity measure, and we welcome the Minister's indication of his belief in the value of the system.
We will also encourage recognition of the unique role of research-intensive universities delivering access to quality education, conducting excellent research, and driving vital world-class innovation in regional areas such as the Hunter, Central Coast and Mid-North Coast of NSW.
In particular, we welcome the Minister's strong commitment to "equity and excellence" in higher education, a focus the University of Newcastle has maintained for 50 years. The University, today named again in the world's top 300 by the Times Higher Education rankings, is one of Australia's leading research-intensive regional universities.
Also this week, UON Laureate Professor Scott Sloan was named an International Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, in the same year he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society - a rare and remarkable achievement. This year, 15 of the University's subjects were ranked in the world's top 200 by independent ranking system QS, and the University's flagship research centres, the Hunter Medical Research Institute and the Newcastle Institute for Energy and Resources, continue to drive world–class innovation with impact across our region and worldwide.
Our focus on delivering excellence is matched by our unwavering commitment to equity. UON enrols the largest number of enabling students in the country and is strongly committed to widening participation. In 2014, the University enrolled the nation's largest cohort of Indigenous students – 914 in total – through the outstanding work of the Wollotuka Institute. Over 60 per cent of our domestic students are non-school leavers, and a quarter are from disadvantaged backgrounds. Our success rates for undergraduate students from low-SES backgrounds are comparable to our overall success rates, highlighting the importance of a strong commitment in this area.
The University looks forward to engaging with the Minister to shape the next phase of higher education policy with equity and excellence as its cornerstone.