UOW started the year on a high when the QS World University Rankings for Universities under 50 years of age were released, with UOW ranked in the top 25 young universities in the world for the second consecutive year. QS ranked UOW as 22nd in the world, an improvement of two places on the previous year, and second in Australia.
“UOW has moved from strength to strength in recent years in the face of strong global competition,” Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Wellings said. “Since UOW gained its autonomy in 1975, we have forged a strong record of achievement as a world-class university with exceptional teaching standards and a strong research environment.”
To underline UOW’s strong research environment, researchers from UOW’s Institute for Superconducting and Electronic Materials in January announced an important breakthrough, when they became the first team in Australia to successfully fabricate single-atom-layer silicene. The new material is expected to have a range of applications, from being used to make small, faster computer chips to new medical technologies and vehicle and aircraft parts.
UOW’s reputation in quality of its teaching was recognised when Federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne appointed Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education) Professor Eeva Leinonen to his eight-member Teacher Education Ministerial Advisory Group (TEMAG). Professor Leinonen and the other TEMAG members are examining current methods of teaching and learning, subject content and ways of improving in-school experience opportunities.
UOW announced a new policy that aims to unlock access to its greatest asset—knowledge. The Open Access Policy allows anyone from anywhere in the world to download academic publications via the University’s Research Online platform. Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Judy Raper said the initiative would increase visibility and make research outputs such as publications more discoverable and accessible. “The Policy encourages immediate, online and free availability of research outputs without restrictions on use, which may be imposed by published copyright agreements,” Professor Raper said.
UOW Science Centre Director and 2013 UOW Alumni Award winner Glen Moore retired in April after more than 30 years at the University, during which time he had developed the Science Centre into Wollongong’s premier indoor tourist attraction. Glen had provided the University with long and valuable service as the visionary, initiator and long-term Director of the Science Centre, which opened in 1989 and has become the region’s most visited indoor tourist attraction, marking its one millionth visitor in 2013.
Associate Professor Pauline Lysaght became UOW’s first Student Ombudsman in April. The role sees Professor Lysaght investigating all student academic grievances (including those from Higher Degree Research students) that have not been resolved at Faculty level, as well as overseeing the student course progress appeals process.
NSW Minister for the Illawarra John Ajaka visited UOW’s Innovation Campus for a sod-turning ceremony for the iAccelerate building, which is being built with $16.5 million funding from the NSW Government. UOW is establishing iAccelerate as a centre for start-up companies, providing mentoring, support, professional services and seed funding.
UOW confirmed Professor Alison Jones’ appointment as Executive Dean of the Faculty of Science, Medicine and Health (SMAH). Professor Jones joined UOW in 2011 as Dean of the Graduate School of Medicine. She is an internationally recognised and research-active toxicologist and physician, serving on a wide variety of expert advisory groups and providing advice to State and Commonwealth government departments. She is a Director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute and serves on the Executive of Medical Deans of Australia and New Zealand (MDANZ).
Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Wellings joined NSW Premier Mike Baird, Minister for the Illawarra John Ajaka and Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery to promote Wollongong to potential business and industry investors at NSW Parliament House on 15 May 2014. Professor Wellings spoke about UOW’s prominent position in national and international rankings, and its role as an economic driver for the region, with the University’s iAccelerate business incubator providing a new face and direction for the region’s economy.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced funding for UOW researchers to help develop a next generation condom that “significantly preserves or enhances pleasure, in order to improve uptake and regular use”.
The UOW team was one of only 52 grants funded worldwide, out of more than 1,700 applications for the Grand Challenges Explorations initiative, which covers five diverse project areas ranging from agriculture to healthcare. Initial grants of US$100,000 are awarded two times a year. Successful projects have the opportunity to receive a follow-on grant of up to US$1 million.
The UOW team will work to develop a replacement for latex condoms using new materials called tough hydrogels to lift condom use in countries with significant social, economic and environmental problems stemming from a lack of birth control and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.
In June UOW held a national launch for its Global Challenges research program at Old Parliament House in Canberra. The unique research program brings together world-class expertise in a bid to offer solutions to complex world problems, based on three themes: Living Well, Longer; Manufacturing Innovation; and Sustaining Coastal and Marine Zones.
Global Challenges Director Professor Chris Gibson outlined the program to the audience of politicians and diplomats at an event hosted by UOW Brand Ambassador and former Australian cricketer Adam Gilchrist AM.
The Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science (ACES), based at UOW’s Innovation Campus, received $25 million in funding for another seven years to make Wollongong the global headquarters of an international materials research effort.
Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Wellings received two accolades in July. Early in the month the NSW Government appointed Professor Wellings to an expert board to advise the government on the continued development of the state’s international education sector.
The International Education Advisory Board will provide expert insight and advice on the delivery of the government’s 10-year international education strategy and the future direction of StudyNSW. The board brings together 10 experts, including Professor Wellings, from the education, research, industry and government sectors.
Later in the month Professor Wellings received an honorary degree from Lancaster University in the United Kingdom, where he served as Vice-Chancellor from 2002–2011. Lancaster University’s Pro-Chancellor Lord Liddle awarded Professor Wellings a Doctor of Science (Honoris Causa) at a graduation ceremony during Lancaster’s 50th anniversary celebrations.
Australian Minister for Employment Senator Eric Abetz visited the Innovation Campus in August to officially open the Sustainable Buildings Research Centre (SBRC). The research and training centre is dedicated to developing new technologies and techniques to make buildings more environmentally sustainable. The Australian Government funded the building’s construction with $25.1 million through the Education Investment Fund.
iAccelerate launched a $10 million seed fund to enable its startup companies to grow and thrive. The fund aims to attract investors with a passion and commitment to the startup sector who will contribute to the $10 million seed fund pledge. In turn, the fund will provide investors with access to a unique pipeline of early stage business investment opportunities.
UOW hosted its first Open Day in decades on 16 August 2014. More than 5000 prospective students and their families from many parts of NSW visited the campus for tours and a range of information sessions on courses, Early Admission possibilities, scholarships and career opportunities from different degrees. Later in the month UOW’s Sydney Business School hosted an Open Day at its spectacular campus overlooking Sydney’s Circular Quay to showcase new specialist Bachelor of Banking and Financial Services and Bachelor of Accounting and Financial Services degrees.
The QS World University Rankings Graduate Employers Survey released in September ranked UOW in the top 100 universities in the world for graduate quality for the seventh successive year. UOW also scored five stars for student retention and graduates getting a full-time job in the 2015 Good Universities Guide—the 14th successive year that UOW had received five stars for graduates getting a full-time job.
Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Wellings visited India in the first week of September with Prime Minister Tony Abbott as part of the Australia: Open For Business delegation to further strengthen UOW’s connections with India. Professor Wellings and UOW Brand Ambassador Adam Gilchrist were members of the Prime Minister’s high-level delegation of business leaders covering key industry sectors, and used the opportunity to promote UOW as a destination for Indian students and the Innovation Campus research and development precinct as an ideal location for Indian companies to establish operations in Australia.
Minister for Industry Ian Macfarlane launched the Australian Research Council Research Hub for Australian Steel Manufacturing, based at UOW, in a function at Parliament House in Canberra in September. The Hub will focus on research and development into steel manufacturing techniques and processes, innovation in new steel products and best-practice pathways for bringing new ideas to market.
Community outreach was the focus of two of UOW’s newest research institutes in October.
The Sustainable Buildings Research Centre at the Innovation Campus hosted its first Open Day on the 25 October 2014. The community was invited to tour the SBRC’s laboratories, view displays and visit the Illawarra Flame House, UOW’s winning entry in the 2013 Solar Decathlon China Sustainability competition. The solar-powered house has been erected as a permanent display adjacent to SBRC.
And the Early Start Research Institute, whose home will be in the Early Start building due to open in 2015, hosted a Public Forum as part of its community outreach program, featuring pioneering US academic Professor Joseph Starling from the University of North Carolina. The forum focused on Professor Starling’s life-long work using education to transform life-long outcomes for disadvantaged communities.
UOW launched its 40th Anniversary of Independence celebrations, in preparation for 2015. UOW officially became an autonomous university on 1 January 1975, and the coming year will feature a number of celebrations and events to mark the anniversary. Prior to 1975, it had been a divisional college of the University of NSW. The 40th anniversary website celebrates many of the milestones and achievements of the past four decades.
UOW farewells Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor John Patterson, who will retire after 40 years at the institution. Professor Patterson joined the Wollongong Institute of Education as a PE lecturer in 1974, and moved across to UOW when the University and Institute merged in 1982. He was appointed Deputy Dean of Education in 1986 and Dean in 1993. In 2000 he became Dean of Health and Behavioural Sciences and 2001 Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Operations). He has been Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor since 2010.