Professor Paul Wellings believes Wollongong, Sydney and Newcastle will become some of the world’s ‘’great mega cities’’ over the next 30 years.
But the University of Wollongong Vice-Chancellor recognises this brings with it increased pressures on infrastructure, transport and housing affordability.
That’s why he welcomed UOW’s role in the NUW Alliance, which is tasked with solving these great challenges for NSW.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian officially launched the NUW Alliance of UOW, University of Newcastle and the University of New South Wales, in Sydney on Friday.
The three research-intensive universities will work together to come up with ‘’smart solutions’ for the state.
But Prof Wellings said the Alliance, which had a geographical reach from the Mid North Coast to the South Coast of NSW, was calling on the business, industry, education and health sectors to contribute their time and ideas to help identify transformational projects.
‘’The NUW Alliance demonstrates that our universities not only help our students reach their full potential, but also our communities,’’ he said.
‘’This is why it is important for us to consult widely to identify priorities in our communities so we can get to work in delivering smarter solutions for New South Wales.’’
Prof Wellings said the trick for the future was to join the dots a bit and get the teams to work together to solve NSW State Plan priorities including to develop skills in critically important new sectors such as cyber security.
‘’If the truth be told, that's a very fast moving field that involves more than technology. It clearly involves legal, business and ethic issues,’’ he said.
‘’We are asking the question….. would the dream team come from the three universities rather than just one university trying to do that unilaterally and offering a [cyber security course] product that wasn’t consulted with industry or government in the creation of those sorts of products.’’
The NUW Alliance is home to 25 per cent of Australia’s population and 75 per cent of NSW’s population.
UOW, UNSW and UON collectively operate 14 innovation and entrepreneurship hubs from the Illawarra to the upper Hunter.
In 2015, the three universities netted a combined research income of more than half a billion dollars, including more than $112 million from industry research partners.
University of Newcastle Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Caroline McMillen said the NUW Alliance was keen to understand what the challenges for communities were and where gaps in research and knowledge might be contributing to those challenges.
The consultation period – expected to last up to six months – will identify areas where the combined higher education ‘firepower’ can make a lasting difference to the ability of individuals, businesses and communities to thrive and prosper.
Visit www.nuwalliance.edu.au for details.