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Australia’s first social enterprise university shows social impact at the heart of CQUniversity

Published:05 May 2022

Circular Social Traders logo reads SOCIAL TRADERS CERTIFIED SOCIAL ENTERPRISE

CQUniversity is Australia's first university to be certified as a social enterprise.

CQUniversity has been certified as Australia’s first and only social enterprise university, recognising the institution’s unique commitment to changemaking and social impact.

A social enterprise is a business that operates for social, community and environmental benefit, and CQUniversity joins iconic Australian businesses like Who Gives A Crap, Landcare Australia and Thankyou Group, in gaining certification from social procurement trailblazer Social Traders.

CQUniversity Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Nick Klomp announced the certification on Thursday 5 May 2022, and said Social Traders’ expert-led assessment highlighted CQUniversity’s transformative social impact for students and communities.

“CQUniversity is proud to be Australia’s most inclusive, accessible and supportive university, and social impact for our communities is at the heart of our education, training and research,” Professor Klomp said.

“And our impact extends far beyond our campuses – our social innovation education means we’re equipping our students to be curious, creative and collaborative, and empowering every graduate as a changemaker in their community and their career.

“We’re truly engaged with the communities we serve, to give back, to work with First Nations Peoples and prioritise Reconciliation, and to empower academics, researchers and staff to integrate social innovation practice across their work.

“Our life-changing contribution to social and environmental good has been recognised as unique across the higher education sector, and CQUniversity is proud to be Australia’s first social enterprise university.”

With 35,000 students across a national footprint, CQUniversity has some of Australia’s highest rates of regional, rural and remote students, and students from Indigenous, first-in-family and low-socioeconomic backgrounds.

CQUniversity’s community-partnered research drives social impact initiatives including green energy, coastal and marine conservation and restoration, sustainable regional development, innovative health care, public health and wellbeing, safer and sustainable transport, domestic and family violence prevention, inclusive education and educational equity, and Indigenous health knowledge.

Professor Klomp said CQUniversity operations also support Indigenous and social enterprise through procurement targets, and he welcomed the opportunity to create new social enterprise partnerships through Social Traders’ national network.

Social Traders is Australia’s only social enterprise certification body, and Head of Certification and Impact Nina Yousefpour commended CQUniversity’s trailblazing commitment to social impact.

“Social Traders social enterprise certification verifies that a business operates to solve a specific social or environmental issue, and CQUniversity is the first Australian university to be certified as a social enterprise,” Ms Yousefpour said.

“This has been an important precedent, as institutions look to how they can extend their social impact. Business for good is a trend that’s here to stay and we congratulate CQU on leading the charge for the education sector.”

Social Traders certification means CQUniversity can work with government and business to meet social enterprise procurement targets, and offer education, training, research and consulting solutions with clear and proven social benefit.

The recognition builds on CQUniversity’s work as Australia’s only Changemaker University, accredited by global social change network Ashoka U since 2016.

To explore CQUniversity’s work and impact as a social enterprise, visit cqu.edu.au/socialenterprise.