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Finding solutions to the challenges facing communities in New South Wales will be the focus of an alliance of three of Australia’s leading universities, announced today.

The NUW Alliance will see the University of Newcastle (UON), University of New South Wales (UNSW Sydney) and University of Wollongong (UOW) exploring and delivering ways to add value in health, education, technology and business development to improve the wellbeing of NSW communities, enhance equality of opportunity, create new jobs and generate economic growth.

The NUW Alliance builds on the shared ethos, history, existing collaborative links and complementary strengths of the three universities – including their shared commitment to promoting access for students from disadvantaged or non-traditional backgrounds who face greater challenges when pursuing their higher education ambitions.

The NUW Alliance will be the first grouping of its kind in Australia. Similar alliances internationally have delivered significant value for their communities through independent, research-intensive universities that are co-located in a geographic region, leveraging complementary strengths for public benefit.

The NUW Alliance’s first step will be to launch a consultation program to engage key stakeholder groups across the state including the health, education, business and government sectors along with indigenous and other community groups.

The consultation period – expected to last up to six months – will identify areas where the combined higher education ‘firepower’ of UON, UNSW Sydney and UOW can make a lasting difference to the ability of individuals, businesses and communities to thrive and prosper in New South Wales.

The broad community consultation follows consideration of NSW State Plan priorities and initial discussions between the three universities, which have canvassed opportunities to:

  • develop skills in critically important new sectors such as cyber security
  • apply ‘Smart Cities’ technologies to improve the connectivity, productivity and liveability of our regional cities and coastal communities
  • create greater access to higher education for students in regional and remote communities – including Indigenous students
  • partner with health services to improve health outcomes for the community, including for some of the most disadvantaged groups in the state

The three universities while retaining their legislated independence and ongoing autonomy will work together to initiate new, and intensify existing, teaching and research collaborations.

University of Wollongong Vice-Chancellor, Professor Paul Wellings, CBE, said the alliance aims to make universities more relevant and has the potential to deliver tangible economic and practical benefits.

“The NUW Alliance brings together three world-class research-intensive universities with complementary strengths to tackle some of the very real challenges impacting on business and communities in NSW.

“By harnessing our industry partnerships and our shared commitment to innovation we can help grow more jobs, build new businesses and drive economic growth across our regions,” Professor Wellings said.

University of Newcastle Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Caroline McMillen, said the alliance will be underpinned by a shared institutional DNA and a strong commitment to equity and excellence.

“The combined strengths of our universities offer a remarkable opportunity to drive transformational economic and social change in the regions and communities we serve,” Professor McMillen said.

“Through translating world-class research and innovation into smart solutions, the alliance aims to build resilience for these communities into the future.”

UNSW Sydney President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ian Jacobs, predicts the alliance will also have a significant impact.

“Given our historical and existing links, shared values, complementary strengths and the scale of the NUW Alliance, the potential to add value for the people of NSW is enormous.

“Importantly, we are starting by consulting our communities. We hope to identify major programmes, which will utilise the combined expertise, quality and scale of the Universities of Newcastle, New South Wales and Wollongong, to enhance the wellbeing of communities and create jobs and economic opportunity,” Professor Jacobs said.