VERY soon 873 first year students will commence their studies at Charles Sturt University campuses in Bathurst, Dubbo and Orange. Regional reporter Nadine Morton has looked at how CSU and its students impact the Central West in terms of jobs, the community and the economy.
Economic impacts of CSU
CHARLES Sturt University (CSU) contributes $213.4 million to the Central West’s economy annually and employs 1938 full-time equivalent positions, data shows.
Not only do thousands of students study on campus and online through the Bathurst, Dubbo and Orange campuses, but CSU also has a significant impact on the region’s economy and employment.
Deputy vice chancellor Jenny Roberts said the relationship that CSU had with its local communities across the Central West was mutually beneficial.
“It’s not about what they can provide to us, it’s about what we can do for the community,” she said.
“For us that’s really important, the connections we have in the community.”
Ms Roberts said not only do CSU students undertake employment across the region, they also join sporting and services clubs and take on volunteer roles.
It’s not about what they can provide to us, it’s about what we can do for the community.CSU deputy vice chancellor Jenny Roberts
“A lot of our degrees have practical placements and that’s a really important part of what we do to ultimately have successful graduates,” she said. “For us that’s really important the connections we have in the community.”
An Economic Impact Report prepared by the Western Research Institute for CSU reveals that the university contributes $213.4 million to the gross regional product (GRP) of the Central West.
“This includes both their initial contribution (direct expenditure) and the flow on impacts of that expenditure,” A WRI spokeswoman said.
“As is the case for CSU, their flow on impact is greater than their initial contribution . Flow on impacts are changes in the region’s economy in the course of an additional round of spending after the initial impact occurred.”
The WRI spokeswoman said the 1938 full-time equivalent positions include the FTE of their staff in the region and the flow-on FTE employment as a result of their operations in the region.
What we know is when people come to the region to study, they have an opportunity to get jobs and build connections and marry.CSU deputy vice chancellor Jenny Roberts
Ms Roberts said the Central West’s population had increased over the long-term thanks to the university’s existence.
“What we know is when people come to the region to study, they have an opportunity to get jobs and build connections and marry,” she said.
“When students come they realise the benefits of living in regional areas and that can only be adding value to the region.”
Ms Roberts said a vital component to helping student forge long-term connections with the community was the university’s O Week activities.
Student welfare, safety is vital at CSU
WITH almost 900 new students, and hundreds of others who are continuing their studies, welfare and safety on campus is of huge importance, Charles Sturt University's (CSU) Kim Copeland says.
This year, 873 new students will start their studies at CSU’s Bathurst, Dubbo and Orange campuses with the university to kick-off its On Campus Orientation (formerly O Week) celebrations later this month.
Ms Copeland, CSU's director of student safety and wellbeing, said with so many students studying and living across the three campuses, welfare was an “absolute priority”.
“For new students in particular, orientation week will have a number of programs, campus tours, familiarisation with their courses led by students who have been trained,” she said.
Residential advisers (RAs) - senior students who live on campus who have already ‘been there, done that’ - are among the on-campus support systems.
These RAs are dotted across three campuses and they have just completed intensive training to ensure they have the skills and experience to help students with any challenges they may face.
CSU is about creating a community and students are very much part of that community.CSU director of student safety and wellbeing Kim Copeland
“They can help students, particularly new students, settle into university life,” Ms Copeland said.
“Students really value that role and they [RAs] have quite intensive training.”
A range of programs and services are also run during O Week and throughout the year that directly target student welfare and safety.
Ms Copeland said students were encouraged not to “just be a bystander” if they see or hear inappropriate behaviour or comments made, but to actively help and report matters to CSU staff.
“CSU is about creating a community and students are very much part of that community,” she said.
“This increases the likelihood of them telling us if something does go wrong.
“A lot of our focus is on prevention and bystanders and looking after your mates.”
A lot of our focus is on prevention and bystanders and looking after your mates.CSU director of student safety and wellbeing Kim Copeland
The ‘Respect Now Always’ initiative also runs at CSU and it has the backing of vice chancellors from every one of Australia's 39 universities.
The initiative, which began nationwide in 2016, aims to at prevent and address sexual assault and harassment in universities and increases the support services available for students.
“All frontline student staff are trained to deal with disclosures,” Ms Copeland said.
CSU also runs a Consent Matters workshop and Playing Right, which is a program designed to educate students to sexual assault and sexual harassment.
The university has a 24-hour hotline for anyone who has been a victim of sexual assault.
The university also has a 24-hour hotline for anyone who has been a victim of sexual assault.
“It’s a dedicated sexual assault hotline that's answered by a professional counsellor,” Ms Copeland said.
The sexual assault hotline can be reached by calling 1800 961 991.
O Week runs from February 25 to March 3 in Bathurst, and from February 27 to March 3 in Dubbo and Orange.
Timetable revolution on trial at CSU Dubbo
About 70 students will be the first to trial a new three-day timetable when the first session of 2019 commences at Charles Sturt University Dubbo on March 4.
The Dubbo campus has condensed all class times into Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday to make on-campus study more accessible to students from Dubbo and further afield.
On-campus accommodation has also been tailored, with those studying at the Dubbo campus now able to pay for only the nights of the week they need.
Campus development officer Bart Sykes said it enabled people from across western NSW to maintain links with their communities from Friday to Monday, while still enjoying the benefits of on-campus study.
“It means students who might be um-ing and ah-ing about whether they can handle a university course are only coming to on-campus classes three days a week,” he said.
“It enables people to organise childcare, it enables them to be available to an employer from Friday through to Monday.
“The vibrancy on those three days a week increases, because all our spaces are being utilised.
It means students who might be um-ing and ah-ing about whether they can handle a university course are only coming to on-campus classes three days a week.CSU Dubbo campus development officer Bart Sykes
“It might sound fairly minor but it’s a big initiative for what the university has been able to arrange.”
On-campus orientation commences next Wednesday, February 27.
Mr Sykes said it was an “exciting” time at CSU.
“You’re seeing people at the start of what’s a fairly significant journey for them,” he said. “They bring a new level of excitement, they’re fresh to the tertiary environment and very keen.
“And you’ve got school leavers in there, you’ve got people who are retraining, older people who have never studied before: it’s a really good mix.”