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CQUniversity ‘Island Classroom’ established via partnership with GKI Hideaway

Published:08 October 2020

CQUniversity has signed a unique partnership agreement with Great Keppel Island Hideaway to that will allow CQUni students and researchers to work on real-world projects that contribute to the environmental sustainability of a busy tourist drawcard on the World-Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef. (Top L-R) Capricorn Enterprise CEO Mary Carroll, GKI Hideaway Group Manager Kelly Harris, CQUni Vice-Chancellor Prof Nick Klomp and CQUni Deputy Vice-President Educational Strategy & Innovation Prof Fiona Coulson, (Middle) Kelly Harris, Woppaburra Elder and Traditional Owner Rob Muir and Prof Klomp signing the Memorandum of Understanding and (Bottom) Prof Klomp (far right) planting trees with CQUni Horticulture students.

CQUniversity's Environmental Science and Horticulture students will gain invaluable experience in an 'island classroom' environment at the gateway to the Southern Great Barrier Reef, thanks to a unique partnership between the University and Great Keppel Island Hideaway.

Great Keppel Island Hideaway – one of the largest generators of tourists on the Southern Great Barrier Reef – officially signed a unique partnership agreement with CQUni at a special ceremony on 7 October, creating an island base for CQUniversity – one of Regional Australia’s largest training, education, and research institutions.  

CQUniversity Vice-Chancellor Professor Nick Klomp said his institution’s partnership with GKI Hideaway was a strong example of industry collaboration for community gain.

“Our students and our researchers will jump at the chance to work on real-world projects that contribute to the environmental sustainability of a busy tourist drawcard on the World-Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef.

“But importantly, our student’s experiences also benefit the iconic GKI Hideaway, which is a major economic driver whose ongoing viability is essential to so many other tourism-related businesses and service providers in the Keppel Islands and on the mainland, Professor Klomp said. 

Capricorn Enterprise CEO Mary Carroll said the partnership between the two major regional players was designed to lighten the environmental footprint of the busy island property, while creating one of the most sought-after university classrooms in the country.

“GKI Hideaway is about to embark upon a major environmental sustainability campaign involving ‘green’ upgrades to their power, water, sewerage and permaculture systems, along with important land restoration projects, and they have sought assistance from CQUniversity experts.

“In turn, CQUniversity has spotted tremendous potential to leverage training, teaching and research opportunities in these projects across fields such as engineering, environmental and marine science, horticulture, conservation and land management, tourism and hospitality.  

“What has resulted is a remarkably innovative bilateral relationship that sees benefits flowing to both organisations. Ultimately however, it will be the island itself that benefits the most, meaning this is a partnership of regional significance,” Mary said.

GKI Hideaway Group Manager Kelly Harris said the partnership with CQUniversity would help the business transition to a much lighter environmental footprint using expertise from leading scientists, engineers, and conservationists.

“GKI Hideaway is committed to adopting absolute best practice in terms of how our infrastructure and operations coexist within our pristine yet sensitive island environment. CQUniversity’s expertise here is invaluable, and it gives us confidence to invest in these critical upgrades.  

“The fact that we can proceed with our ‘green upgrades’ in a way that benefits education, training and research in our region makes it even more attractive for us. Everyone at GKI Hideaway is looking forward to ensuring CQUniversity has the most sought-after classroom in the country,” Kelly said.  

Key features of the CQUniversity – GKI Hideaway partnership include;

*    CQUniversity Conservation and Land Management students, along with Horticulture students, working with GKI Hideaway on major erosion control, vegetation management, tree planting, permaculture, and irrigation projects.
*    CQUniversity Engineering researchers and students working with GKI Hideaway on designing new power generation, water filtration and sewerage management systems.
*    GKI Hideaway providing beachfront land, power, and services for an eventual CQUniversity reef research field station.
*    GKI Hideaway hosting CQUniversity field trips and residential schools for students studying courses such as Environmental Science, via discounted ferry, accommodation, and meals packages.
*    GKI Hideaway upgrading its conference facilities specifically to accommodate CQUniversity classroom or laboratory needs.
*    Opportunities for CQUniversity Tourism and Hospitality students to access training experiences at GKI Hideaway, with cross-skilling opportunities available for GKI Hideaway staff.