Charles Sturt University’s Wagga stakeholders had their say about the $104 million overhaul and questioned whether the focus areas would solve their “identity” issues.
Lecturer in humanities Kelly Shaw expressed confusion about who the university was trying to target.
Ms Shaw said the university has switched its focus from being a university that targets online and distance education, to being a regional university and now trying to change that all within her five years at CSU.
“When I heard about this university strategy and the name change I wasn’t initially surprised, because over my time working I think the university has been facing an identity crisis,” Ms Shaw said.
Other staff at the campus said they understood the university’s desire to standout against competition in order to survive, despite many strongly opposing the name change.
One member in the audience expressed that it took her a while to comprehend a name change but said the university “won’t be here” unless it changes and “actively competes” in the university spaces.
Former head of the agricultural school Ted Wolfe said the university should be building the brand around their students.
“The university needs to listen to their students who have a great life and tell wonderful stories about their experiences,” he said.
“I’d like to see more of this in their publicity campaigns because their views and experiences should be taken into consideration.
“We need to somehow signal that CSU is changing, but I’m somewhat ambivalent about the name change.”
Vice-chancellor Andrew Vann said a third of the strategic focus areas for the university strategy is to work with communities and solve the problems they face.
“People really value connection and bondage to the university, there’s a strong sense of public service here and to deliver public good,” Mr Vann said.
“We’ve been a country that has focused on large capital cities and the tide is turning partly because of the congestion, traffic and house prices.
“Wagga is a growth hot-spot and we need to put ourselves into the community for the growth and look at the future and help communities solve problems they are faced with, like building a fast rail.”
However, CSU companion John Mahon said in order for the university to respond to community problems, the council board members need to live in the region.
“In the last 10 years there hasn’t been any external member that is based in Wagga, Dubbo or Albury, but these are the people that get to mingle with these communities,” he said.
“How can they find out what the problems are, when they don’t live here?”
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