October 2016

Hello there,

October already: the AFL season has been and gone, and the Spring Racing Carnival is just around the corner. As usual, there has been plenty going on here at La Trobe University….

Rankings results

We’ve just emerged from the annual rankings season, and I’m pleased to say that La Trobe has done very well.

Overall, we are ranked in the top 400 in all three major rankings, the QS, the Times Higher Education (THE) and the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU). It’s the first time La Trobe has appeared in the top 400 in all three rankings, and we achieved our highest ever ranking in the ARWU. So, altogether, this represents our best-ever rankings performance.

The icing on the cake came last week when we were placed in the QS ‘Top 50 Universities Aged Under 50’. It was our first entry into the top 50 in this ranking. Given that we turn 50 next year, it will also be our last – but it’s nice to go out on a high note!

Update from China

I have just returned from a two week trip to Asia, visiting China, Hong Kong and Indonesia. The purpose of the visit was to sign articulation agreements with partner universities in Dalian, Shanghai, Beijing, Zhenjiang and Chengdu; to host alumni events in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong; and to visit existing and potential donors in Hong Kong and Jakarta. Our final engagement was to join a Victorian State Government Investment lunch hosted by the Premier in Beijing.

The length of the visit signals the importance and extent of our engagement with Asia, and especially China. A highlight for me was an alumni forum on Australia-China relations organised by La Trobe Asia, and generously hosted by our very good friends at East China Normal University (one of the top universities in China, and a La Trobe partner of 30 years standing). There was an excellent panel of speakers, including La Trobe graduate and former Australian ambassador to China Geoff Raby, and two very distinguished academics from ECNU. It was all very expertly orchestrated by La Trobe Asia’s Executive Director, Professor Nick Bisley.

International teaching recognition

Well done to Professor Betty Leask, Pro Vice-Chancellor Teaching and Learning, who was recently recognised for her research on the internationalisation of curriculum in higher education.

Betty has been awarded the European Association for International Education’s respected Tony Adams Award for Excellence in Research for her work on internationalisation of curriculum. You can see some of the fruits of Betty’s labours here.

On the behalf of the La Trobe community, very warm congratulations to you Betty.

Aspire Program Update

I am very proud of our Aspire Program, a fine example of innovation at La Trobe which is now in its third year. We recently made more than 1900 Aspire conditional offers for study in 2017 - a new record.

We now know that Aspire students thrive here at La Trobe. In fact, on average Aspire students are consistently outperforming their non-Aspire counterparts, including in the area of retention. Perhaps even more interesting is that 37 per cent would not have got an offer into their course through the traditional means.

We’ve got more plans to continue to develop the program. Please take a moment to watch our latest Aspire video.

Making `Big Ideas` a reality

The top ten “big ideas” in the Australian Futures Project My Big Idea competition were recently announced and are detailed at the My Big Idea website.

As a sponsor of the initiative, La Trobe University will now help to incubate two of the winning ideas, both of which relate to older Australians.

The La Trobe Business School, led by Professor of Entrepreneurship Dr Alex Maritz, will bring to life the concept of a Seniors Enterprise Centre and Over-55 Start-up Group. The project will be integrated into our entrepreneurship courses.

The La Trobe Business Analytics team led by Professor  Damminda Alahakoon also strongly supported My Big Idea, analysing and reporting a range of data collected over the course of the project.

Sustainability news

La Trobe is a finalist in three categories of this year’s Green Gown awards, which recognise excellence in sustainability in the tertiary education sector in Australasia.

The LifeSkills program is a finalist in the community innovation category for an initiative in which LifeSkills participants create furniture from wooden pallets.

We are also a finalist in the facilities and services category, in recognition of our pioneering transition from traditional vehicle fleet management to the car sharing scheme with GoGet.

I also thank Jen Chaput, Julie O’Brien and the staff of our Environmental Sustainability Unit for nominating me in the leadership category - a nomination that I share with them as the managers of a range of initiatives across the University.

I am also pleased to let you know that the University has become a founding partner of the Victorian Government’s climate change pledge program Take2, whichstrengthens our commitment to reducing the University’s impact on climate change.

Recognise your peers

The 2016 Staff Awards nominations process is in full swing. This is a wonderful opportunity to recognise and reward the achievements of La Trobe people in a range of categories. I encourage you to nominate an outstanding colleague or team by 5 pm Friday 14 October.

Jobs for graduates – right here at La Trobe

Following the success of the inaugural Graduate Development Program this year, La Trobe will again offer this valuable employment program in 2017.

This initiative directly supports our focus on graduate employability and represents a great opportunity for graduates across our many disciplines and locations.

In 2017 up to ten La Trobe graduates will be offered a year-long placement. Teams are invited to bid to host a graduate rotation. Applications close on 14 October 2016.

Save the date – Staff Briefings

October will be a busy month for the Senior Executive team as we visit each campus for the Semester Two Staff Briefings in mid-October.  This will be a great chance for us to listen to you and for you to ask questions of us.

You can get in early and pre-submit a question via: Communication@latrobe.edu.au.

October is Staff Giving month

Finally, Don’t forget that October is Staff Giving Month. Since 2013, staff donations have supported 15 access scholarships. I am proud to be part of such a generous community, and hope you will be able to donate again this year.

Have a great October.

John