The University's Education portfolio continued to develop its world-class teaching and learning program to benefit students, staff and the Western Australian community.
UWA once again attracted a large number of high-calibre students, enrolling 70 per cent of the State's top school leavers with an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) of 95 and above and with an overall median ATAR of 92.6.
UWA became the first university in WA to make available publicly its ATAR entry data, helping students to understand the entry requirements for courses and make informed choices on their tertiary education.
There were significant improvements made to courses. The University rebranded its distinctive globally recognised course structure as UWA Courses and undertook a number of initiatives to further develop an engaging and rewarding experience for its students. New courses for school leavers included 38 new direct pathways that combined a broad undergraduate degree with a professional postgraduate master's degree. These degrees provide students with clear direction to a career of their choice while retaining flexibility to explore broad areas of interest.
Other changes to UWA courses included the introduction of a six-year pathway for school leavers into medicine, dentistry and podiatric medicine qualifications while retaining the four-year pathways for graduates. The expansion of the flagship Bachelor of Philosophy course attracted 75 new enrolments and new courses included a double major in Engineering Science and a Master of Public Policy. The Centre for Education Futures launched a new unit called Transforming Teaching for Learning.
UWA continued to offer special pathways and support programs for students including Fairway, Broadway and Aspire UWA. One of several new initiatives was the UniStart/UniMentor International Airport Meet and Greet program to welcome international and exchange students. Support for international student mobility also grew with a record number of students receiving Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade New Colombo Plan scholarships.
Transforming teaching and learning spaces was a major success in 2016. The new Futures Observatory was officially opened in March by the Governor-General of Australia. This hub features new cutting-edge technology that will provide a creative environment for staff and students well into the future. A refurbishment of Reid Library saw the number of learning spaces expanded from 350 to 700 and has created an informal and collaborative learning environment, enriched with technology. UWA's Albany campus continued to provide students with the opportunity to study rurally and grew in enrolments.
The McCusker Centre for Citizenship established partnerships with more than 200 not-for-profit, community and government organisations and placed 126 interns regionally, nationally and globally, contributing more than 13,000 hours of service to the community. The centre also sponsored events attended by more than 9500 people. The Big Idea in particular saw more than 120 students develop a concept for a new social enterprise to help disadvantaged Australians.
In student learning a new learning management system, Blackboard Learn was implemented with digital engagement in UWA units increasing from 41 per cent to 79 per cent by the end of 2016. Student adoption of the mobile client app continued to rise rapidly with up to half of UWA students accessing the learning-management system through their mobile devices.
Sport was a big feature in 2016. The Australian University Games attracted more than 6000 student athletes from 40 tertiary institutions across Australia to the University's Perth campus. UWA won the 2016 University Games Overall Champion. Eight members of the UWA sporting community participated at the Rio Olympics.
In staff achievements Associate Professor Cosimo Faiello, Ms Penny Carruthers, the UniAccess Team and the Fit for Study Team were recognised with awards for Excellence in Teaching. Furthermore, three staff members - Associate Professor Paul Abbott, Professor Farid Boussaid and Ms Penny Carruthers - received national Department of Education and Training Citations for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning.
As we progress towards 2017 I look forward to continuing to develop and expand the University's teaching and learning program to provide a world-class experience for teachers and students.