AFTER a rewarding career at the helm of the region’s most dynamic tertiary education institute, Robbie Collins will retire on February 26.
Much has changed in her 15 years as the head of campus at University of Wollongong’s Shoalhaven campus.
More local students than ever are now taking up tertiary studies.
“There are people on this campus who wouldn’t have gone to uni if there wasn’t a campus in their community,” Ms Collins said.
“We’re changing the profile of the community.
“In linking in with community and using the Into Uni program to foster students’ aspiration, I think you’ll find the flow to higher education is up from 10 per cent when I started to about 14 per cent. Some of that has to do with the university reaching out into schools.”
Achievements are thanks to three tiers of government and the local community.
“This community has been so supportive, you had the visionaries on the Nowra Aboriginal Land Council give up a land claim to site it here,” Ms Collins said.
The most enjoyable part of her role has been interacting with and advising students on their career path.
“What has been most enjoyable?” she said.
“Talking with students, ‘maybe I want to do this course, or that course.’
There are people on this campus who wouldn’t have gone to uni if there wasn’t a campus in their communityHead of Shoalhaven campus Robbie Collins
“Universities are working so solidly to enhance the sense of agency that a student has about creating real possibilities from their journey through uni.”
Mrs Collins was flattered to receive a glowing mention from Kiama MP Gareth Ward at NSW parliament last week for her work over the years.
“I’m quite honoured by that,” she said.
“I don’t have a lot to do with Gareth Ward except through business meetings, so they were very kind words.
Next, Ms Collins plans to work part time and spend more time riding horses, gardening, and working with her bees.
“This has been a 24-hour job that I’ve had the best of fun doing, but there’s a time and a place to take the next step,” she said.