The University of Newcastle, Australia

Children's University Australia Director visits UON

Thursday, 25 May 2017

The Director of Children's University Australia, Kiri Hagenus, visited the University of Newcastle (UON) earlier this month to touch base with the Newcastle program and team.

“I wanted to see how Children’s University (CU) was working in Newcastle because each one is different. I heard great things about the growth and interest in the program in Newcastle, so I really wanted to talk to schools, students, parents, Learning Destinations and the CU staff about their journey and where they wanted it to go,” explained Ms Hagenus.

As Director of CUA, Ms Hagenus is responsible for the growth of the program in South Australia and nationally. During her week at UON, she was able to visit several schools and meet with Learning Destination representatives across the Hunter and Central Coast regions.

“I think CU Newcastle is fantastic. There is so much enthusiasm and excitement from those involved and it is growing at a wonderful pace. Everyone I met was committed and passionate about what they did and I even got to stamp passports – something I rarely get to do anymore,” Ms Hagenus said.

In 2017, Children’s University Newcastle has tripled in size, growing in just one year to accommodate 24 schools and almost 1000 students across the Hunter, Newcastle and Central Coast. It is supported by UON's Centre of Excellence for Equity in Higher Education.

Currently there are four universities in Australia offering CU, and while there are some similarities between each program, Ms Hagenus said they all have their particular points of difference.

“There are so many activities that it is mind blowing and although some are the same, there are also many that are unique. All CU partners are working with a diverse range of communities, rural and metro. The one thing that is a constant is the dedication and commitment of the teams who recognise the immense possibility of the initiative,” Ms Hagenus said.

While she has been fortunate to work on several programs assisting communities to grow and children to think differently about their futures, Ms Hagenus is most excited by CU and its potential.

“CU truly has the power to change entire communities. It supports social innovation, social entrepreneurship, social mobility, community participation, a passion for learning and it’s all about fun,” she said.

“I am hopeful that CU will be in every state and territory in the next few years and more and more universities will come together to share ideas, knowledge and success stories. In a few more years we’ll start to see the first Children’s University members become university students. The potential is endless and the story incredibly uplifting,” she added.

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