Western Sydney University has constantly evolved in the 30 years since it was established but the future promises greater change with more accessible campuses and bolder partnerships with other universities, according to the Assistant Vice-Chancellor, Dr Andy Marks.
Western started as a series of campuses. New ones were later opened in Parramatta and Liverpool CBDs. A third CBD campus, Bankstown, is slated for 2022. That in itself is a radical transformation.
The University is not walking away from the traditional, “rolling hills campuses”. However, there are plans to position Western right in the heart of where people do business, developing larger partnerships with industry for more on-the- job student experience while studying.
“It’s unique, and it’s only happening here in Western Sydney.”
Dr Marks grew up in Pendle Hill, and says that, in his current role, telling the University story in 14 Federal electorates and convincing politicians of the merit of Western Sydney University is a “natural fit”.
“I’m from the region so I know how to stand up and fight for it. And sometimes you have to fight for Western Sydney because we don’t feature as much as we should,” he says.
With 65 per cent of students the first in their family to attend university, Western is one of Australia’s bigger tertiary education agents of social change. When someone has access to education, there is a ripple effect within their family, and even their community, as they lead an inspirational path and prove that a different future is indeed possible.
“The battles we fight here are not just about a fair go but to make sure government is aware that when they make big promises about employment and ‘livability’, the surest ticket to both is education,” Dr Marks says.
Caps on enrolments and the imposition of efficiencies has made telling the Western Sydney University story more difficult according to Dr Marks. “Tertiary education, is Australia’s greatest services export and could be the bulwark against the coming international downturn.”
“There’s an attitude in some sectors of government that Western Sydney will just cop it. We’re not asking for more, we never have, but the fundamental pitch is to use the evidence to make sure that Western Sydney at the very least gets its fair share.”
Growing with the Region
Western Growth is an exciting initiative of the University, that will bring the highest quality educational opportunities and worldclass research expertise to Australia's fastest growing region.
Over the next 20 years, the region’s population is expected to increase by another million people, contributing more than half of Sydney’s overall expected population growth.
Western Sydney University is aligning with Western Sydney’s growth by embedding campuses in the CBDs of the regional city centres of Bankstown, Liverpool, Parramatta, Penrith, and Westmead.
The new Engineering Innovation Hub in Parramatta CBD – a joint venture between Western Sydney University and the University of NSW – and the new Bankstown CBD campus will assist industry to develop smarter ways of working.
Western Sydney University’s launch pad is providing support and mentoring for the next generation of entrepreneurs, connecting them to research, facilities and equipment across the University.
At the planned aerotropolis at the new Western Sydney Airport, the University will be at the forefront of new research to power the future of Western Sydney’s industries and people.
WORDS BY DAMIEN MURPHY