Last week I’ve was lucky enough to spend a couple of days at the University of Wollongong. The University is about an hour an a half outside of Sydney in the town of Wollongong. Wollongong is an old steel town which has seen the steel industry decline over the last twenty or so years. However, during that period it has also seen the growth of the University of Wollongong. The University of Wollongong is situated in a lovely campus where pretty much every building is encased in greenery.
The University’s promotional film gives you a good insight into the sort of place it is.
I’ve mainly been intererested in the careers service in the University. The service is lead by Martin Smith who is a longstanding mainstay of the Australian career development scene and staffed by some really excellent careers counsellors and consultants. Together the team have been building a hub and spoke model whereby the delivery of a central advice and guidance service is supplemented by strategic curriculum work in the faculties. The service have also been working to build a really strong link with the work-integrated learning that takes place in the University.
Wollongong has the sense of a careers service that is going places. There was lots of talk about the services impact across the insitution and the desire to build a research and evaluation culture alongside delivery. I’ll be really interested to see how things develop over the next few years.
A lot of the exciting developments at Wollongong are down to the hard work and creativity of Martin and his team. However, the service also has another major thing going for it. The insitutional senior management seem to understand career development and see it as an integral part of the development of the institution. Because of this the issue of career seems to be becoming increasingly central to the ethos of the University of Wollongong. I think that we have yet to see the ideal of the “career development university” realised anywhere in the world, but Wollongong are certainly pushing in that direction. I’ll be very interested to see where it goes over the next few years.