Professor Jim Nyland may be the Dean (Students) at the University of Southern Queensland, and it may be his first appointment to the institution, but for him – it feels like coming home.
“I arrived in Australia from the United Kingdom nearly 20 years ago based on a connection to the University of Southern Queensland – so after all this time, I feel that connection has finally come to fruition and I couldn’t be more pleased,” Professor Nyland said.
“At the turn of the century I was working at the University of Derby in the UK, a leader in e-learning and lifelong learning, and we were looking for a partner university who was operating in the same space.
“The University of Southern Queensland fit the bill beautifully and I was – and remain – in awe of the way it functioned as both a great global institution and a great local uni, at the same time.
“I have wanted to work for the University ever since, so it’s quite a full circle moment, two decades after first arriving in southeast Queensland.
“They say Queensland is a ‘state of mind’ and if that is true, I believe the same can be said of universities; when you join one that lives and breathes the same values you both cherish, there is a tremendous feeling of familiarity.”
Professor Nyland previously served as the Associate Vice-Chancellor (Brisbane) at the Australian Catholic University (ACU) and has held academic appointments at the University of Queensland, where he was the Director of Corporate Education and Director of UQ Business School Downtown.
He has also served as Manager and Principal Advisor in the Vice-Chancellor’s Office for Engagement at Griffith University and has held managerial positions in a number of universities in the UK.
In his new role with the University of Southern Queensland, Professor Nyland said he’ll be focusing on recognising the powerful voice of students through a spotlight on excellence in student engagement.
“Students are a University’s greatest resource, and we know from the work of the Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) that the students of this generation are expected to have 17 different jobs across five different careers across the span of their working lives,” he said.
“So preparing them for this uncertain and changing world is quite different to when my generation went to university. It’s our responsibility, as a leader in world-class education and globally recognised research, to ensure we’re delivering the new skills that are required to make our students as skilled, employable, and resilient as possible.
“We want to do that in way where students have developed a high level of autonomy in the way they learn and offer the support and collaboration that ensures they know they’re co-partners in the university – we are simply nothing without them and their success.”
Professor Nyland has his own level of success to mark himself by over his future tenure in the role as Dean (Students).
“I’m working hard to ensure that in five years’ time the University of Southern Queensland is the envy of every other university in Australia and beyond in terms of experience and engagement for students,” he said.
“Their voices are powerful, and we plan to develop new ways of enabling them to use their voice through curricular and non-curricular activities. This generation want to tackle the big issues facing our society such as climate change and we want to make sure they are given the opportunities to do so in a University that is serious about making a difference to the big challenges and big changes of our time.”
Professor Nyland serves as the Chair of Engagement Australia - the peak body for Australian University Engagement - and represents Australian Universities on the International Consortium of Community Engagement, which is globally linked to the lead academic engagement communities in the USA, the Council of Europe and South America.
He is also the Editor of the new Australian journal Transform: Journal of Engaged Scholarship and contributes to current educational debates and issues in regional and national publications.