Life as a researcher at the USC

This week my life as a researcher at the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC) started. In the coming three months I have to gather all the data I need for my research about stakeholder participation in the Currimundi catchment. The study area is located approximately 8 km from the University. It is unique because of its naturally opening and closing entrance. The area has a lake which is connected to the ocean on the one side and connected to canals on the other side. Due to weather events, erosion and tides the area is constantly changing. The inlet of the lake is sometimes closed by depletion of sand.

This effects the living environment of the people living in the surrounding coastal communities. Since the living and recreational environment is so important for the Australian people a lot of action is taken. The community here in Australia is very involved in the protection and improvement of their local living environment. The picture is taken at the beach south of Maroochydore River. You see sandbags of geo textile which are used as a wave breaker and to prevent coastal erosion.

Now I will tell you something about my experiences with the education in Australia. It is somewhat different than in the Netherlands. After a bachelor of three years, you can follow an honours degree. Thereafter, you can directly apply for a PhD study, without doing a master degree. In the master degrees they make a distinction between ‘master by course work’ and ‘master by research’. The combination of the master I am currently following (with courses and research) is unknown over here.

The USC is split into two faculties, the science and engineering faculty and the arts and business faculty. Each faculty has different research areas, like health care, sustainability, social work or animal science. It is surprisingly that the two faculties are not really cooperating together, they have both separated agenda’s which are not integrated. Since my study involves a bit of both faculties, it is very difficult for me to find the right people to talk to: they are unaware of each other tasks and duties. If I compare this with Wageningen I could say Wageningen University is very integrated and tries to work coordinated.

The work pressure is very high at the University, everybody is working so hard and finds it hard to have time to talk to me or explain something about the area. They are very willing to talk to you but they just do not have time. Similar to Wageningen is that many researchers/lectures here are abroad on conferences or project visits. The projects everybody is working on are very international, there is especially a lot of collaboration with China.