As a companion to the name I have chosen for this blog, I am going to refer to the institution I inhabit as “The Little University That Could” – TLU for short. The name comes not because it is especially small in terms of student numbers, but because of its place in relation to the Australian University hierarchy.

In Australia, there are reasonably distinct classes of universities – in fact, in recent years there have been some suggestions that these classes should be made explicit by assigning universities to specific roles (e.g., teaching-only) or groupings. The story starts with the “sandstones”, universities that were formed around the beginning of the 20th century. This group consists of not more than one or two in each capital city. There are then institutions that have been around for a reasonable period (four or more decades as a university), often being converted from a technology institute. Again, most of these are based in the heart of the capital cities.

Then there are the “young” universities. These are institutions that were established in recent decades, usually with the aim of improving access to university education. Many of these have been formed by converting one or more Colleges of Advanced Education, teachers’ colleges, or other tertiary education services into a university. Generally, they are located in the outer suburbs of the capital cities or in regional centres.

TLU falls into this latter group. It is a university that is based outside the capital cities in one of the Eastern states of Australia. As a young university that has grown out of non-university heritage, it tends not to attract large amounts of research funding or the cream of the student crop. In my view it also struggles to find a meaningful identity – it wants to be a university but does not quite know how to manage it. Part of this probably stems from the fact that at least some of those who are in senior positions have been here since before it was a university and may not have experience of how other universities operate. Part of it is a result of a history, geography, and economics. But it all means that things never seem to run quite smoothly.

What this place does well is serve its geographical region. Students who might never have gone to university before, because it would have involved moving from a small town to the middle of a major city, are now getting a chance to earn a degree. We serve our community quite well.

So, that is a brief introduction to where I work. I expect I will be saying a lot more about it on this blog as times marches on.

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