ABC gives CQU the 3rd degree

By MIKARLA THURECHT

CENTRAL Queensland University is no degree factory.

CQU vice-Ccancellor and president Professor John Rickard yesterday defended the university's ploy to tap into the lucrative overseas student market following a news investigation into the state of Australian universities.

The university was one of a handful of Australian institutions put under the microscope on the ABC's Four Corners program on Monday night.

The program explored the universities and questioned whether Australia's so-called centres for excellence were becoming mediocre degree factories.

Prof Rickard said any claims CQU was a degree factory were offensive and not based on evidence.

He said the university was proud of its overseas students and had only looked abroad because of government funding cuts.

"Why should we apologise for running this university on commercial lines? We don't cut corners. We stand up to all scrutiny.

"We were responding to a challenge. Government policy changes have forced us to seek alternative revenue,'' he said.

CQU derived just 23% of its funding from the government last year.

He said it would have been impossible for CQU to grow to what it is today without the help of full feepaying overseas students.

Prof Rickard said for a young university of 13 years, CQU was performing well.

He said suggestions by the program that CQU may lose its research funding to more established universities were premature, as the findings of an inquiry into the best ways to fund the nation's research had not yet been released.

"You can't expect CQU to be heavily-involved in world class research at this point in our history.

"I hope quality research will be funded wherever it is and not just because it's with a university that does a lot of research.''

Prof Rickard said the program had been "disappointing'' overall.



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