A most interesting place to work and study

A message from the Campus Dean (Canberra), Patrick McArdle:

ACU is a most interesting place to work and study. Our campuses are not only part of a significant national university but also part of the fabric of their local communities. I have always questioned just how we should go about selling ourselves in the best possible way.

I am not a fan of advertising – I tend to find it intrusive and irritating. Yet, there is a need to convey information about one’s product. In the case of universities, including ACU, it is to convey what is preferable, ideal, unique or differential about this institution or this course at this institution. So it is that ACU’s home page notes high levels of graduate employment, international standing in terms of excellence, and substantial community engagement – these are the elements we seek to inform people about with the intent of attracting those who value those attributes. We present ourselves as an ideal conduit to attain the current and future needs of our students; as a way to realise their hopes and ambitions.

Those of us who work here know these claims and attributes to be true: we make a difference to the lives of those we serve; further, we know that our graduates go on to make incredible positive differences in the communities that they live and work within.

Yet, I am always surprised when prospective students note things about ACU that I would not have immediately noticed or been drawn toward. Recently I heard a group of Year 12 students discussing university options for 2021 – when the discussion turned to ACU, they commented on three things: ACU is Australia’s most energy efficient university; ACU supports regional students; and ACU staff and students are friendly and welcoming.

All of this is true but what struck me – as a non-advert-understanding person – was the need to cast the advert net very wide. We have elements of our offerings and our service that we want to emphasise but it may well be that those we are seeking to attract notice something quite different.

What ACU does well in this area is consistency between what we claim about ourselves, even if we don’t make a fuss about it, and what we do. People notice that. Our students have noticed it this year during the most disruptive year any have experienced; our stakeholders have noticed it in the variety of ways we continue to reach out and serve their needs; and prospective students notice it in the most interesting of ways. Our bestselling option is to be who we are and to share that openly and willingly – it is about having confidence in our people and what they do.

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