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  • Crispin Till

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    CQUni announces first sporty step in $54 million expansion plan


    The first piece of CQUniversity’s $54 million expansion puzzle is already in place, with construction of a new sports science building on Aumuller St set to start soon.

    Expected to be completed in time for semester 1 2018, the $2.5 million sports science laboratory will allow Bachelor of Exercise and Sports Sciences students a rare chance to be embedded with the Taipans and gain experience with a national, professional sporting team.

    The sports science lab is part of CQUniversity's bold wishlist of projects aimed at boosting student numbers from the current 1000 to 2500 within the next few years.


    The centrepiece of the expansion plan is a $30 million permanent CBD campus with the university already out-growing its current home at Cairns Square

    While there are opportunities to grow at the current site on the corner of Abbott and Shields Sts, CQUniversity Vice-Chancellor Scott Bowman said “we are not ruling anything out” when it comes to the location of the new campus.

    “We haven’t got anywhere in mind but I can guarantee it will be in the heart of the community,” he said.

    “We need a base that belongs to us where we have the freedom to develop.

    “We think the whole city centre should be seen as a campus so there are a lot of community resources being used not just to provide services but also to educate people.”

    CQUniversity has called the Cairns Square building home since 2015. Cairns Regional Council last year approved plans for a $20 million two-storey expansion of the inner-city building.

    “We think Cairns Square is a great space in a perfect position with a very high profile. We could look at an expansion of our current building," he said.

    Other components of the $54.7 million "Community Impact Plan" alongside the $30 million campus and $2.5 million sports science lab include: 

    • $16 million Asia-Pacific Aviation Hub
    • $1.2 million First People's Think Thank and Research Centre
    • $2.5 million research capability extension
    • $2.5 million creative and performing arts precinct

    ON BOARD WITH THE TAIPANS

    The sports science building has secured funding from the Federal Government with costs associated with fit-out, equipment and staffing to be covered by CQUniversity.

    Students enrolled in the course and researchers will work alongside Taipans players, coaching and professional staff and CQUniversity Cairns Taipans chief executive officer Mark Beecroft said the new partnership would see long-term benefits.

    “We are thrilled to be partnering with CQUniversity on this new degree, and see our partnership grow and develop into something so cutting-edge in sports and education in Australia,” Mr Beecroft said.

    “The Taipans always aim to be ahead of the curve, and this is allowing us to lead the way with this unique initiative. 

    INVESTING IN THE FUTURE

    CQUniversity is already investing in the aviation and performing arts sectors but will need Federal Government funding if its overall plan is to succeed.

    It is also working with local groups to develop community partnerships to help support potential growth, including for the expected increase in student numbers into the CBD.

    “We don’t have any plans to build our own student accommodation,” he said.

    “What we have done is talk with local accommodation providers to develop relationships with them.

    “There is a lot of accommodation right in the heart of the city, including old backpacker houses that could be converted for students.

    “We don’t have facilities for food, drinks and services but we have our logo in restaurants and businesses in the city and these are the places students go to get something to eat and drink.”

    The education sector employs more than 10,000 people in Cairns and 14,000 international visitors studied in Cairns last year.

    Attendees at today’s announcement including Federal MP Warren Enstch, Cairns Regional Council Mayor Bob Manning, Advance Cairns chairman Trent Twomey and Cairns Chamber of Commerce president Nick Loukas all spoke in support of CQUniversity’s plans to expand in Tropical North Queensland.