Mastering the maze

"We believe that the students we are recruiting are given a quality program in areas they want to study," said Central Queensland University director of graduate programs Greg Whymark. Although called Central Queensland University, it has a large campus in Sydney and the international university has campuses in Melbourne and six in Queensland as well as Hong Kong Fiji and Singapore.

"New areas of study for the university include information security which the federal government identified as an area where there's a lack in skills," Whymark said.

Central Queensland University regularly runs focus groups in Sydney and Melbourne with industry and recruitment firms to get feedback on its programs. "We also take note of international curriculum designs. The program was restructured three years ago and has boomed ever since. It is designed to meet certification requirements where applicable which means it is skills-oriented. We will be introducing a research component in the near future -- the program is continually evolving and never stands still."

Central Queensland University is currently going through the accreditation process with the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA). "We are going to open a NZ campus in November this year and MIS/MITs in business and IT are on the schedule to be delivered."

Professor Ian Robinson, head of La Trobe University's School of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences, its strength lies in the range of offerings in which it specializes.

From mid-year La Trobe is planning a new Masters of Mobile and Pervasive Computing. "The new course combines our strengths of computer networks, software engineering and intelligent systems; you need smart ways of doing these things," Robinson said.

"This area is ambiguous in nature and the course will teach how to use these devices and how they communicate with other devices. There are sequences of applications in this area, and we will train students to understand the networks and software engineering."

La Trobe also offers a combined Masters of Telecommunications and Network Engineering.

"It is more about convergence of these areas -- the boundaries are getting a bit blurred and people need to know about both the software side, protocols and designing them and the hardware," he said.

The combined Masters attracts people with an engineering background and some with computer science, whereas the other courses are designed for people with a computer science background.

All of the La Trobe's courses are Web assisted; all the material is online but each unit has a couple of hours of face-to-face teaching each week. "We try to put them late in the afternoon which makes it possible for students to do them after work," he said.

MIT is offered at Bendigo as well as the university's Bundoora campus.

La Trobe has also negotiated a number of HECs placements for its postgrad courses. "Due to the downturn in student numbers for undergraduate courses we have been able to swap some full fee places for HECs places," he said.

In South Australia, Flinders University associate professor and head of School of Informatics and Engineering, Janet Verbyla said its Masters course is flexible. "We try to suit the course structure to what the student is trying to achieve."

Flinders main intake is mid-year. "It is better for the overseas market, because the academic year runs on a different cycle and getting a visa can take longer. We have a lot of undergrads who would like to go onto a Masters so there is already a lot of demand there.

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