Historic day for region's new uni

Published 6:00am 6 April 2023

Historic day for region's new uni
Words by Nick Crockford

The first UniSC Moreton Bay foundation students have graduated, three years after the University of the Sunshine Coast campus opened in Petrie.

Students were first welcomed to UniSC Moreton Bay in March 2020 - when the pandemic began - as the newest university campus in Australia.

On Tuesday 170 students graduated at Genesis Christian College on Tuesday, in two ceremonies.

One of the first students, Emily Collins, said it was ‘perfect timing’ when she enrolled in a Bachelor of Science after finishing at North Lakes State College as dux in 2019.

“The way I imagined the first year of uni was very different to the way it was,” said Emily, 21, who delivered the graduate address.

“We went into our first national lockdown a few weeks into the semester and the excitement for university became fear of getting the virus, giving it to other people and running out of toilet paper.

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Learning curve

“But we learned Zoom etiquette, returned to campus and adapted to a ‘new normal’ of blended learning.

“I got to experience all the excitement of the university lifestyle, including little things like sitting with friends on The Rise to watch the Tokyo Olympics on the big screen.”

Emily graduated with a University Medal for a grade point average of 6.96 out of 7, as she continues Honours research into soil carbon.

UniSC Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Helen Bartlett, said this week was a milestone for UniSC, graduates and the Moreton Bay community.

"This is the first full cohort of students to study exclusively at our newest campus and I am thrilled for every student who crosses the stage today, knowing they are ready to take their new knowledge into their region and the world,” Professor Bartlett said at the ceremony.

The campus began with a foundation building in 2020. Construction is now well underway for three more buildings, due for completion this year.

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Skilling region

“With Moreton Bay’s population projected to increase to 700,000 in 20 years, we knew there was an enormous opportunity to educate and equip people with the necessary skills to meet industry gaps, and enrolments have already exceeded expectations,” Professor Bartlett said.

“By 2030, we expect UniSC Moreton Bay to be equal in size to our flagship UniSC Sunshine Coast campus, with 10,000 students enrolled.”

Moreton Bay Mayor Peter Flannery described the ceremony as a “milestone”.

“We’ve celebrated so many great milestones in the short history of this university campus from the first sod turn in 2018 to the opening day of classes in 2020, but today is easily my favourite,” he said.

“To see the smiles on the faces of each student as part of the inaugural graduating class of Moreton Bay is the reason why Council took on such an ambitious task to build a greenfield university campus all those years ago.

“These students might not fully realise it now, but they are the trailblazers and role models for the entire region proving that you can follow your dreams right here in Moreton Bay.”

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