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How the University of Canberra rose to be among the world’s best

The University of Canberra’s rapid rise in the world rankings is a reminder of the significant possibilities that can be realised by a young university.

Established as a university in 1990, the University of Canberra is deeply embedded in the economic, social and cultural profile of the ACT region.

While it is young as a university, it is swiftly developing a notable global reputation, rising to 18th in the world in the latest Times Higher Education Young University Rankings.

University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Paddy Nixon, said the latest rankings news reflected the dedication of staff, and the University, to academic excellence and innovation.

“To be placed in the top 20 young universities globally, in our 30th anniversary year, is an outstanding achievement. These results are an affirmation of our strategic purpose – to be a globally respected university that is known for its deep civic connection."

“I want to thank our staff. I am truly humbled by their commitment to the quality of their research and teaching along with the deep impact they are having on the community around them.”

As the University takes a moment to celebrate its latest achievement, it is timely to reflect on its history and how it became the fastest-rising university in the world. Its reputation as a university for the professions stems from its inception, with a strong emphasis on progressive teaching and learning and solid industry links. Work-integrated learning forms a key part of courses and is invaluable in producing world-ready graduates.

While a quality learning experience forms the backbone of the University, an area of rapid expansion – and the main driver of UC’s rankings success – has been the development of world-class research centres and institutes, based around five focus areas: communication, education, environment, governance and health.

Professor Leigh Sullivan, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Innovation, said the University’s Research Foundation Plan began in 2013 and laid the groundwork for research success.

“These significant rankings achievements have placed us beyond our initial expectations and ambitions. These results are a reflection on the outstanding research performance due to the excellence of both our talented academics and our research support staff.

“We are proud that UC research focuses on innovative and impactful outcomes. We aim to make a difference to the world around us and I think that is evident in every single research project underway at the University.”

Some of the most recent grant recipients epitomise the innovation and global impact of the research at the University of Canberra.

A team led by Professor Gordon Waddington at the UC Research Institute for Sport and Exercise (UCRISE) has recently secured a grant from the Australian Space Agency to improve sensorimotor disturbances for astronauts.

The Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance is currently organising the first global citizens assembly to discuss the ethics and laws surrounding gene editing.

The News and Media Research Centre team have just released their Digital News Report: Australia 2020, finding that most Australians will miss local news if it disappears.

Closer to home, the University’s Health Research Institute (UC-HRI), led by Professor Rachel Davey, is paving the way for wellbeing in Canberra and beyond, working with the latest geospatial and health data.

While these are just a few recent examples, the University’s campus continues to develop, with new facilities creating ever more opportunities for research and learning, as well as essential services for the community.

The University of Canberra Hospital was officially opened in 2018 as a dedicated specialist centre for rehabilitation, recovery and research. The hospital is an example of the seamless connection between learning, research and community impact that embodies the spirit of the University of Canberra.

As new developments continue to expand the campus, and the rankings place the University of Canberra firmly among the world’s best, one thing the University has maintained over its 30 years is its indomitable, distinctive character. Its location in Australia’s capital city has shaped the University as progressive and dynamic – dedicated to public service and building a sustainable and prosperous future. As a hub of learning, practical courses, innovative research and new opportunities, it will always be the University in, of and for Canberra.