Higher education

Leader: Dr Penny Wurm, TS–CRC, Northern Territory University

Full Project Title: Higher Education Project
Project 4.1.1

Summary | Objectives | Approach and methods | Project team |


The objective of the Higher Education Project is to develop higher education programs that:

  • meet the needs of CRC stakeholders, by addressing gaps in the skills and qualifications of savanna managers (coursework postgraduate and research degree program)
  • provide a structure though which outcomes of CRC research can be communicated to stakeholders (coursework postgraduate program)

The project’s focus comprises both postgraduate research and postgraduate coursework programs. This dual focus has been unusual among CRC education programs, and was adopted in light of needs analyses undertaken during the early formulation of the TS–CRC (e.g. Benson & Arnott 1996). The TS–CRC has supported PhD, Master and Honours research with scholarships, operational funding, and/or training at NTU, JCU, ANU and now University of Queensland.

It also continues to fund and coordinate the development of the coursework Graduate Diploma & Master of Tropical Environmental Management (GD/MTEM) offered at NTU, with additional units being developed and offered at JCU. The original brief for the postgraduate program was to offer a course in flexible mode, available to savanna managers wherever they lived in northern Australia (or elsewhere).

A complementary and equally significant outcome of this process has been capacity building within regional universities, the fostering of links among partner universities, and between universities and regional agencies and organisations. Staff from agencies and other organisations participate in the development and teaching of units in the course-work program, and also co-supervise research students. Now that UQ is also TS–CRC partner it too will add to, and benefit from, this network of collaborations.

The Higher Education Project is central to the TS–CRC achieving its overall objectives, including Key Result Area 4, namely productive and capable people living and working in the tropical savannas.


  • Build capacity by providing stakeholders with relevant, current and excellent education programs focussing on tropical savannas management;
  • Provide structures through which research outcomes can be communicated directly with stakeholders in that research;
  • Increase opportunities for collaboration and links between tertiary education institutions in the region, and outside the region, and among the people working within them;
  • Ensure excellence in all project outcomes through ongoing evaluation.

Approach and methods

The project objectives will be achieved by supporting research and course-work postgraduate programs at partner universities. Undergraduate course work programs also receive TS–CRC support, where this contributes to or encourages outcomes at the postgraduate level.

Activities within the Higher Education Project aim to promote collaboration between partner universities (for example in joint supervisory arrangements for postgraduate research students, or the promotion of cross-institutional enrolments in coursework programs). Franchise of TS-CRC owned coursework units among partners and stakeholders within the region may also be considered.

Educational programs will provide a framework through which TS-CRC researchers can participate and contribute to education programs, either through postgraduate research supervision, advising on the content of coursework units, or participating in teaching and tutoring. As well as ensuring the quality of content of educational projects, this collaboration will also offer professional development opportunities for TS-CRC researchers.

Support for postgraduate research students offered by the TS-CRC will supplement or compliment the support already offered at partner universities. This support will emphasise collaborations across partner universities, the development of industry networks for students and fostering the development professional skills. The TS -CRC will also target support towards students from groups that are under-represented within student, research or professional sectors in the tropical savannas.


  • What contributions would successful completion of this project make to improved management in the savannas, with particular reference to the activities of institutions, groups and people collaborating in the TS–CRC?
  • A well regarded, high-quality relevant postgraduate coursework program, will mean suitably skilled workforce within regional land management agencies, industries and programs. This course-work program will also provide for some people a pathway into further research or postgraduate study.
  • In collaboration with projects in other Theme, the Higher Education Project will also provide support for higher degree research projects.


  • Ongoing development and maintenance of Tropical Environmental Management (TEM) course-work postgraduate program at NTU;
  • Ongoing development and maintenance of innovative postgraduate core units in the TEM program at NTU;
  • Ongoing development and maintenance of innovative external postgraduate electives at JCU and NTU;
  • Innovative education tools, based on outcomes of research in other themes, that can be used as teaching tools within existing or proposed units at NTU, JCU and elsewhere;
  • Training opportunities and support for postgraduate research students that assist in timely completion of research theses, increased employment prospects and improved educational experiences and outcomes for students;
  • A marketing and promotions program that ensures the widest possible use of education resources developed by the project;
  • An evaluation program that ensures excellence in the quality of programs and products;
  • Support for undergraduate studies that increase opportunities for postgraduate study.

Project team

Penny Wurm, TS–CRC, NTU
Lynda Prior, TS–CRC, NTU
Lindsay Hutley, TS–CRC, NTU
Wanda Jackson, NTU
Keith Christian, NTU
Michael Douglas, NTU
Tony Griffiths, NTU
Diane Pearson, NTU
Samantha Setterfield, NTU
Keith McGuinness, NTU
Richard Noske, NTU
Greg Williams, NTU
Barbara White, NTU
Karen Gibb, NTU
Rosemary Hill, JCU
David Gillieson, JCU
Lyn Wallace, JCU
Helen Ross, UQ
Garry Cook, CSIRO SE
John Ludwig CSIRO SE
Dick Williams CSIRO SE
Alaric Fisher, PWCNT
John Woinarski, PWCNT
Rod Applegate, NT DLPE
Bob Karfs NT DLPE