Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Deep Saini reflects on the University of Canberra's role as a facilitator of learning in the past, the present, and the future.
Deepak Chopra, the American author, motivational speaker and alternative health advocate, writes in his 1993 book Ageless Body, Timeless Mind, “People don't grow old. When they stop growing, they become old.” Continuing to learn during one’s life is one way to keep growing.
Starting to learn comes naturally to all of us at a young age, but maintaining this habit through our lives is not always so automatic.
After completing my schooling and two university degrees in India, I headed to Australia to pursue a doctorate at the University of Adelaide. Although my pilgrimage as a formal student ended there, the learning never really slowed down.
My insatiable quest for knowledge has taken me around the world, from India to Australia to Canada – where I worked at four universities – and now back to Australia.
Along the way, I have continually collected knowledge from those around me: friends, family, colleagues, students and strangers. They all know things that I don’t, which is a beautiful thing.
There’s always something new to learn, no matter how old or qualified you are.
In a formal capacity, universities play an important role in facilitating learning.
When I decided to come to the University of Canberra, what attracted me most was the University’s commitment to adapting to the changing nature of tertiary education. As people and technology evolve, the University is determined to stay at the forefront of this change.
‘The Educated Life’vision captures this commitment, outlining the University’s plan to transform our Bruce campus to prepare for how students will learn in the future. It is being driven by the University’s goals of advancing its educational and research performance, integrating with the surrounding district of Belconnen, and adding to Canberra’s growth as a knowledge economy.
It is a 15-year plan, but we are already beginning to see what the future will look like. The Health Hub, the Sporting Commons and two new student accommodation facilities have opened since 2014. These are testaments to the University’s long-term commitment to grow its reputation as an innovative institution committed to professional education and applied research.
I am excited to see further plans come to fruition over the coming years, whether it is the University of Canberra Public Hospital opening next year or the residential development in which people from all walks of life will come to live on our campus, creating a seamless “town and gown” partnership.
This vision of lifelong learning is one of limitless opportunities and possibilities for our students, present and future, many of whom are already coming back to continue their education. In the pages ahead, you will get to know some of our alumni, who are yearning to learn more and have returned to the University of Canberra to do so.
There’s the touching story about 56-year-old Murray Rainey, who is studying to obtain his first university qualification. Murray credits his decision to study with us for helping him beat depression. We couldn’t be happier to have him.
Learning, however, is not confined to the lecture theatre or a university campus. It transcends everyday life, and permeates the careers of those determined to reach the peak in their chosen field. We meet three graduates who have done just that.
So, you see, while a lot may well have changed since I first began my education, one thing hasn’t: I’m not the only lifelong learner here!