On Tuesday 19 May 2015, the Educations Relations Committee hosted a dinner for the Heads of ICT Faculties of Victoria's eight universities to meet the ACS Victorian Branch Executive.

Thirty-two (32) Victorian Branch Executives and University representatives gathered over dinner in the traditional surroundings of University House at The University of Melbourne.

"We had no fixed agenda," Dr Rod Dilnutt, Chair of the Educations Relations Committee said.

"We wanted to provide the opportunity for conversations between University ICT leadership and the ACS. We are delighted to be able to host such an eminent group".

The occasion was facilitated by Rod with Professor Justin Zobel, Head, Department of Computing and Information Systems at The University of Melbourne welcoming everyone to campus.

During the evening Emeritus Professor Doug Grant gave a brief update on the University Accreditation programme.

Topics of conversation centred on accreditation and the need for universities to strengthen their connections with industry. As the peak professional body the ACS is ideally positioned to facilitate these connections.

In the spirit of the occasion a photographer was on hand and guests were able to take hard copy photographs as mementos of the evening.

Given the success of the event, planning for 2016 has already begun.

How this all started

Dilnutt said the dinner owed its beginnings to 2014 when it was recognised "that the ACS' relationship with Victoria's eight universities could be strengthened to provide greater benefit to the ICT profession".

In the past ACS has provided student prizes and participated in some student award ceremonies and other ad-hoc activities.

However, the approach was very transactional and the opportunity to forge strong relationships and expansive networks was foregone.

To address this, a 'UniConnect' Strategy was drafted and the Education Relations Committee was formed in 2015.

Committee membership leveraged the ACS Fellows network in identifying members who had affiliations with the Universities.

Engaging with Universities

The next step was to engage with the Universities.

"You may think that the identification of the Head of ICT teaching and research in a University would be a simple thing," Dilnutt said.

"However, responsibilities for Computer Science, Information Systems, Business Information Technology and Multimedia can be spread over a number of faculties."

While the committee has made good progress in developing the right relationships, Dilnutt said the initiative is "still very much a work in progress".

"Plans are also in place to engage the student communities and increase the span to include the TAFE sector," he said.

The aim

The primary aim of Educations Relations is to support those who prepare the 'Professionals of the Future'.

The ACS will then provide the ongoing support and resources as they develop their careers.

In line with ACS Strategy, Educations Relations is also engaging with the primary and secondary student and teacher communities and is in discussions with Digital Learning and Teaching Victoria regarding ongoing collaboration.

So far in 2015 the team has been involved in a number of student award ceremonies, careers fairs, participated in the ICT Core Body of Knowledge (CBoK) review and actively met with university representatives.

Regional events, in Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo and Gippsland and an academic/industry seminar are also planned for later in the year.

Educations Relations Committee

The Education Relations Committee is Dr Rod Dilnutt, Chair; Prof Matthew Warren, Deakin University; Dr Nick Reynolds, The University of Melbourne; Ms T'arne Whelan, ACS and Mr John Graham and Ms Anastasia Li of the Victorian Branch Executive.

In addition the UniConnect committee draws on representatives from each of Victoria's eight Universities.