STAFF and students at opposite sides of the world are set to benefit from a pioneering antipodean alliance between the University of the Highlands and Islands and Federation University, Australia’s newest university.
The two regionally-based education institutions have a lot in common despite their distance apart – as University of the Highlands and Islands principal and vice-chancellor, Professor Clive Mulholland explained:
“Neither of us are traditional universities. We are both different and are locally based, regional in structure but with national and international influence.
“We’re part of a new breed of tertiary institutions encompassing both further and higher education.
“As trailblazers in our geographical areas, it makes sense for us to establish links with other new generation universities to find opportunities for collaboration and mutual learning.”
Federation University Australia vice-chancellor, Professor David Battersby, said: “Despite the distance between Victoria and northern Scotland, Federation University Australia and University of the Highlands and Islands share very similar missions.
“They serve regional communities scattered across large distances where, in the past, people have found it very difficult to access training and education.
“Both universities are committed to building the social and economic resilience of their communities by providing high-quality education and training and have been very successful in doing so.”
Representatives from the two universities have already met using video conferencing technology and will be investigating ways they can encourage staff and student exchanges and teaching materials.
There are also plans to develop a range of courses for delivery on their 20 campuses across Victoria and the Highlands and Islands as well as establishing joint research programs in common areas including history and rural health.
FedUni’s Collaborative Centre for Research in Australian History will link up the University of the Highlands and Islands Centre for History.
Federation University Australia deputy vice-chancellor (academic) Professor Andrew Smith explained: “Many Highland Scots immigrated to Western Victoria in the 19th century and so there is a strong Scottish tradition in our region.
“This is another example of the cultural and historical ties that link our two universities.”
University of the Highlands and Islands has a world reputation for the innovative use of technology to reach its students and Federation University will be able to learn from that experience to enhance its programs in Victoria.
“Federation University Australia is increasingly moving to offer its programs by blended delivery,” added Professor Battersby.
“Improving the use of on-line and videoconferencing technology to increase access for regional students.”
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