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Former CQ University associate vice-chancellor Phillip Cenere. Picture: Supplied.

Plans to build Australia’s first lifestyle university in NSW

A group of former senior university executives are working to establish Australia’s first “lifestyle university” on the NSW Central Coast.

The Chancellor Institute is chaired by former Sydney University deputy vice-chancellor Professor Emerita Ann Brewer and aims to raise $4.5M to deliver its first round of courses by 2025

A further $10M has been allocated to locate and build an inaugural campus near Gosford, according to founder and chief executive Phillip Cenere.

“There's been a desire for another university up here for a long time,” Mr Cenere said.

“We thought that students deserve to have choice and options, and there will be growing demand from both local and international students for more courses on the coast.”

If established, the institution will exist alongside TAFE and Newcastle University as the only few higher education service providers between Sydney and Newcastle.

Courses will initially focus on master’s programs in digital entrepreneurship and digital media, expanding to undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in IT, allied health, aged care and childcare.

Mr Cenere said the institute is positioned to set itself apart from traditional universities by emphasising a focus on pastoral care and student experience.

“We also deliberately want to stay small, and our goal is to grow to about 10 to 12,000 students,” he said.

Less than two-quarters of Australia's university students report having a sense of belonging to their institution, according to the latest Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching survey.

Studies also indicate that international students in Australia experience a far poorer sense of belonging and higher levels of loneliness than their domestic counterparts.

In addition to popular markets like China and India, the Institute plans to target North American, South American and European markets to recruit a more diverse student body.

"A huge risk that universities take is when they concentrate solely on one market," Mr Cenere said.

"I think the organisations that tend to flourish are the ones that diversify and have a good mix of students and ensure that there's good representation also from domestic students in courses."

The idea of establishing a "lifestyle" university, Mr Cenere said, was also born out of growing calls for greater engagement between university staff and management.

"If the CEO of a university is unapproachable, no one can get a meeting with them, and they live in an ivory tower, then that's also going to flow right down to the tutors.

"We want the opposite of that type of culture."

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